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Cloth, 8vo, xxxi + 471 pages, with more than 200 illustrations 

and a map. 
New York, The Macmillan Company, 1906. 


Cloth, 8vo, xxxiii + 317 pages, with over 200 illustrations and a 

New York, The Macmillan Company, 1911. 


Cloth, 8vo, xxiii + 314 pages, with 3 illustrations and a map. 
New York, Columbia University Press, 1899 (reprinted 1919). 


KiN(i IvHrsRAr Paijviz seated ox his Throxe 

(From the Cochran Collection of Tei-sian Manuscripts in the MetropoUtan 

Museum of Art, New York) 








All righU re«»rv6d 


Set up and electrotyped. Published April, 1920. 

NortoootJ Wttss 

J. 8. Cushing Co. — Berwick & Smith Co. 

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 




This book is a labor of love — the outcome of years of 
devotion to the study of Persia, its history, languages, 
and literature, and is in part the result of four journeys 
through the Land of the Sun, in 1903, 1907, 1910, and 
1918. Some of the records of these travels have appeared 
in print elsewhere. The appreciation with which those 
studies were received has been an incentive to supplement 
them by a literary presentation, in brief form, of the 
earlier poetry of Persia down to about 1000 a.d., so as to 
include Firdausi's Shah-namah, or * Book of Kings,' the 
great epic poem of Persia. Perhaps the reception of the 
present work may give encouragement enough to lead to 
the preparation of a couple of volumes on ' Persian Mystic 
Poetry ' and on ^ The Lyric and Romantic Poetry of 

The aim of the chapters included in the present volume 
— and I hope that they may not be found unduly long — 
is to give succinctly the main outlines of the several early 
periods now chosen for presentation, and to illustrate, 
by translations made from the original Persian, the charac- 
teristics of the various authors, regarding whom I have gath- 
ered material from all sorts of sources, native and foreign. 

Many of the citations are only small fragments of verse 
from Persian poets so long dead that they have been 
evoked almost as shades from the far-distant past; but 
there is something very human in their brief messages 
that makes their story more up-to-date than might be 
imagined. Some of the r cliques of their works, however. 


are longer and have a fuller metrical tale to tell. The 
episode of Suhrab and Rustam, moreover, is a well-known 
classic in literatiu-e, so that a new rendering into blank 
verse may not be unwelcome. 

In making all these translations it has been my en- 
deavor to combine the feeling of the original with the 
element of a faithful reproduction in modern form. To 
be fairly literal and at the same time fairly literary is 
not an easy task. How far I have succeeded in attaining 
my aim must remain for others to judge. It will be easy, 
for any one who cares to do so, to compare text and 
version by making use of the references to sources, con- 
scientiously given in the footnotes regarding every passage 
I have translated. In the three brief selections where I 
have chosen the English version by other scholars (Cowell, 
Pickering, Browne) references are likewise given directly 
after the passages. 

In making the renderings there has been no attempt in 
general to imitate the Persian rhythms, which are elabo- 
rate and depend upon the quantity of syllables, heavy and 
light, and thus do not lend themselves to English versifi- 
cation any more than do the Greek and Latin metrical 
schemes. But, on the other hand, the general system of 
rhyming in Persian has been imitated in a broad manner, 
occasionally even the favorite Persian monorhyme,^ and in 
all cases of departure from such schemes the footnotes call 
attention to the arrangement of the rhyme in the original 
stanzas. The quatrain-form has been indicated to the eye 
wherever it occurs, so that lovers of Omar Khayyam can 
quickly catch rubal verses that long antedate the famous 
Tentmaker of Nishapur. In one of the longer selections 
translated from the Shah-namah, moreover, an attempt has 

1 Cf. pages 29, 33-34, 36 n. 1, 52 n. 2. 


been made to suggest the rhythm and couplet-verse of 
Firdausi's epic.^ Any one who is interested in the verse- 
forms and the rhetoric of the Persians will find abundant 
material on the subject in the well-known works of 
Browne, Gladwin, Riickert, Blochmann, and Wahrmund, 
not to mention others. 

I have pm-posely omitted all diacritical marks which 
would indicate the length of vowels or differentiate be- 
tween certain consonants in Persian names. These dia- 
critical marks have been employed, however, in the Alpha- 
betical List of Poets which I have included as part of the 
introductory matter (pages xx-xxi). They may also be 
found in the very occasional transliterations from the 
Persian which I have given in italics. I hope that neither 
the general reader nor the specialist may be embarrassed 
by my method in either case. Regarding the pronuncia- 
tion of Persian names see the special note, page xxii. 

Persian style and its poetic characteristics — often 
bizarre to us — are familiar to those who know Omar 
Khayyam, Sa'di, Hafiz, or some of the rest ; and though I 
have not yet reached the period of Persian poetry when 
the gul and the hulhul fill the verse with tuneful measures, 
I still hope that even without ' the nightingale and the 
rose' — though they are mentioned — this volume, with 
lute, madrigal, and trump, may find * gentle readers.' 

I now take the wished-for opportunity of expressing my 
thanks to some of the many to whom gratitude is due. 

One of the first inspirations to write on Persian poetry 
came in the form of an invitation, in 1908, from the 
Johns Hopkins University, to deliver seven lectures on 
the subject, as Percy TurnbuU Lecturer, on the foundation 
established by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Turnbull of Balti- 

1 See pages 96-99. 


more, Md., in memory of a deceased son. As a later 
sequel, in 1919, after a fourth journey to Persia, came a 
request from the University of Chicago, through President 
Harry Pratt Judson, who had been Director of the Ameri- 
can-Persian Relief Commission, to present the same general 
subject in three addresses in a lecture-series founded by 
William Vaughn Moody. In addition to these sources 
there came also a special inspiration from the audiences 
present on the various occasions when I gave public 
lectures, in the halls of my Alma Mater, on Persian 
Poetry and other topics relating to the Orient. 

I desire to express as well, with grateful acknowledg- 
ment, my indebtedness to the works of scholars in the 
same field, especially to the writings of my friend Edward 
G. Browne, the most distinguished English authority on 
the literature of Persia, and also to the works of the late 
scholars Darmesteter of Paris and Horn of Strassburg. 
Ethe's erudite and creative contributions, which have left 
a standard to emulate for all time, have been constantly 
consulted ; and Pizzi's name will always rank with those 
of the foremost Persian scholars of Italy. The essays of 
Pickering, though published long ago, became accessible 
to me only after Chapter IV was practically ready for the 
press, but they have been constantly consulted, as the 
added references will show.^ My indebtedness to these 
scholars in particular, as well as to others, may best be 
inferred from the abundant citations in the footnotes and 
in the List of \Yorks of Reference. 

But there are likewise special debts of obligation and 
gratitude which I wish to record. My assistant at 
Columbia, Dr. A. Yohannan, whose birthplace was in 
Northwestern Persia and who has been my devoted helper 

^ See the remarks, p. 32 n. 2 and p. 47 n. 1. 


for years, stood read}' at all times to give aid in the solu- 
tion of difficult problems that presented themselves in the 
texts translated. 

My former student and ever friend, Dr. Louis H. Gray, 
whose scholarly contributions are too well known to need 
mention here, most generously read through the first 
rough draft of a considerable number of the chapters 
and gave valuable suggestions which I wish heartily to 

But two fellow- workers, always at hand, come in for the 
highest meed of thanks. Dr. George C. 0. Haas, formerly 
Fellow in Indo-Iranian Languages at Columbia, has not 
only read the proofsheets throughout, supplementing by 
his skilled eye the care bestowed by the compositors and 
readers of the Norwood Press, but has also prepared the 
Index and aided with his advice in regard to all matters 
of detail connected with the make-up of the volume. 

Dr. Charles J. Ogden, who was formerly a student in 
the Department and who most generously supplied my 
place at Columbia during my eight months' leave of 
absence on the relief mission to Persia in 1918-1919, has 
worked almost daily with me on the volume as the sheets 
were passing through the press. To his broad scholarship, 
sound learning, wise judgment, and fine critical sense I 
owe more than I can readily state. 

To each and all of these willing helpers my most sincere 
thanks are expressed anew. 


Columbia University, 
February 12, 1920. 



Preface vii 

List of Illustrations xv 

List of Works of Reference xvi 

List of Abbreviations xix 

Alphabetical List of Poets xx 

Note on Persian Pronunciation xxii 

Chapter L Persian Poetry of Ancient Days ... 1 

(From before 600 B.C. to about 650 a.d.) 
Chapter II. The New Awakening of Persian Song after 
THE Muhammadan Conquest : The Tahirid 

and Saffarid Periods 14 

(From about 800 to 900 a.d.) 
Chapter III. Rays from Lost Minor Stars : Earlier Sama- 

NiD Period 22 

(About 900-950 a.d.) 
Chapter FV. Rudagi, a Herald of the Dawn ... 32 

(Middle of the Tenth Century a.d.) 
Chapter V. Snatches of Minstrel Song : From the Later 
Samanid Period to the Era of Mahmud 

OF Ghaznah 45 

(The Latter Half of the Tenth Century a.d.) 

Chapter VI. Dakiki 59 

(In the Latter Half of the Tenth Century a.d.) 
Chapter VII. The Round Table of Mahmud of Ghaznah: 

Court Poetry 66 

(Early in the Eleventh Century a.d.) 
Chapter VIII. Firdausi, and the Great Persian Epic . . 82 
(About 935-1025 A.d.) 

Chapter IX. The Shah-namah: Some Selections Trans- 
lated 93 

Chapter X. Epilogue 115 

Index 119 


King Khusrau Parviz Seated on his Throne . Frontispiece 

From tlie Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts in the Metropolitan 
Museum of Art, New York. 


A Page of an Avestan Manuscript with Pahlavi Trans- 
lation 4 

From the Avestan Ms. Jp. 1 in the Colimabia University Library. 

King Khusrau Parviz and the Minstrel Barbad , . 12 

From the Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts, Metropolitan 
Museum of Art. 

The Crumbling Mausoleum at Tus 26 

From a photograph by the author. 

The Great Minaret of Bukhara 36 

From a photograph by Edward G. Pease. 

Embellished Introductory Page of a Persian Manu- 
script 72 

From the Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts, Metropolitan 
Museum of Art. 

The Bridge over the Kashaf River at Tus ... 90 

From a photograph by the author. 

Ruined Walls of Tus at the Site of the Former Rudbar 

Gate 90 

From a photograph by the author. 

Faridun's Grief at the Murder of his Son Iraj . . 100 

From the Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts, Metropolitan 
Museiun of Art. 

The Death of Suhrab at the Hands of his Father 

Rustam 114 

From the Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts, Metropolitan 
Museum of Art. 



This list includes only the works most often referred to as covering this par- 
ticular period of Persian literature. Detailed information regarding other 
books and papers is given in the footnotes. 

Aruzi. ChaMr Maqala (* The Four Discourses') of Ahmad ibn 
'Umar ibn 'Ali an-Nizami al-'Arudi as-Samarqandi, edited by 
Mirza Muhammad of Qazwin. London and Leyden, 1910. 
(Gibb Memorial Series, vol. 11.) 

The Chahar Maqala (' Four Discourses ') of Nidh^mi-i- 

'Arudi-i-Samarqandi, translated into English by Edward G. 
Browne. In Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1899, pp. 
613-663, 757-845. [Reprint, pp. 1-139.] 

Aufi. Lubabu '1-Albab of Muhammad 'Awfi. Part 1, edited by 
Edward G. Browne and Mirza Muhammad Qazwini, London and 
Leyden, 1906 ; Part 2, edited by Edward G. Browne, London 
and Leyden, 1903. (Persian Historical Texts Series.) [Part 2 
was issued before Part 1.] 

Browne, Edward G. A Literary History of Persia from the Earliest 
Times. Volume 1, From the Earliest Times until Firdawsi; 
Volume 2, From Firdawsi to Sa'di. London and New York, 
1902, 1906. [The standard work in English, and constantly 
consulted, as shown by the references in the footnotes.] 

Biographies of Persian Poets : From Tarikh-i Guzida 

of Mustawfi. In Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1900-1901. 
[See specitic references in the footnotes.] 

See also Aruzi, Auli, Daulatshah, Mustaufi. 

Darmesteter, James. Les Origines de la poesie persane. Paris, 1887. 

[A valuable little book of 88 pages.] 
Daulatshah. Tadhkiratu 'sh-Shu ara, 'Memoirs of the Poets,' of 

Dawlatshah bin 'Ala u 'd-Dawla, edited by Edward G. Browne. 

London and Leyden, 1901. (Persian Historical Texts Series.) 
Eth6, Hermann. Die hofische und romantische Poesie der Perser, 

Hamburg, 1887. [A general presentation in 48 pages.] 

Rudagi, der Samanidendichter. In Nachrichten von der 



kuniglichen Gesellsckajl der Wissenschaften zu Oottingen, 1873, 
pp. GG3-742. 

Die Lieder des KisS'i. In Sitzungsberichte der konig- 

lich bayerischeii Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Munchen (phil,- 
hist. CI.), 1874, vol. 2, pp. 133-153. 

Firdusi als Lyriker. In Sitzungsberichte der koniglich 

bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Munchen 1872, pp. 
275-304 ; 1873, pp. 623-659. [Two articles. — Cf . Noldeke, ' Per- 
sische Studien, II,' in Wiener Sitzuiigsb. 126. 14 and n. 3, 34 n. 
1 ; also Pickering, * Fiidausi's Lyrical Poetry,' in National Rev., 
Feb. 1890.] 
Rudagi's Vorlaufer imd Zeitgenossen. In Morgenldndr 

ische Forschungen: Festschrift H. L. Fleischer gewidmet, pp. 
33-68, Leipzig, 1875. 
Neupersische Litteratur. In Grundriss der iranischen 

Philologie, vol. 2, pp. 212-368, Strassburg, 1896-1904. 
Firdausi. Firdusii Liber Regum qui inscribitur Schahname, ed. 
J. A. Vullers (et S. Landauer). 3 ^vols. Leyden, 1877-1884. 

Le Livre des rois, traduit et commente par Jules Mohl. 

7 vols. Paris, 1876-1878. 

II Libro dei re, poema epico, recato dal persiano in versi 

italiani da Italo Pizzi. 8 vols. Turin, 1886-1888. 

Firdosi's Konigsbuch (Schahname), iibersetzt von Fried- 

rich Ruckert, aus dem Nachlass herausgegeben von E. A. Bayer. 
3 vols. Berlin, 1890, 1894, 1895. [Incomplete.] 
The Shah-nama of Firdausi, done into English by Arthur 

George Warner and Edmond Warner. Vols. 1-7. London, 
1905-1915. [To be completed in nine volumes.] 
The Shah-namah, translated by Alexander Rogers. 

London, 1907. [Incomplete.] 
The Shah Namah, translated and abridged in prose and 

verse by J. Atkinson. Edited by J. A. Atkinson. London and 

New York, 1886. (Chandos Classics.) 
Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, herausgegeben von Wilhelm 

Geiger und Ernst Kuhn. 2 vols. Strassburg, 1895-1904. 
Horn, Paul. Geschichte Irans in islamitischer Zeit. In Grundriss der 

iranischen Philologie, vol. 2, pp. 551-604, Strassburg, 1896-1904. 


Geschichte der persischen Litteratur. Leipzig, 1901. 

(In the series Die Litteraturen des Ostens.) 
Asadi's neupersisches Worterbuch, Lughat-i Furs. Ber- 

lin, 1897. (Abhandlungen der koniglichen Gesellschaft der 

Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, phil.-hist, Klasse, Neue Folge, 

vol. 1, no. 8.) 
Jackson, A. V. Williams. Persia Past and Present : a Book of Travel 

and Research. New York and London, 1906. 
From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam 

New York and London, 1911. 
Zoroaster, the Prophet of Ancient Iran. New York, 

1899. (Reprinted, 1919.) 

Mustaufi. The Ta'rikh-i-Guzida, or ' Select History,' of Hamdu'llah 
Mustawfi-i-Qazwini, reproduced in Facsimile from a Manuscript, 
with an Introduction. Part 1 (text), by Edward G. Browne, 
London and Leyden, 1910 ; Part 2 (abridged translation and 
indices), by Edward G. Browne and R. A. Nicholson, London 
and Leyden, 1913. (Gibb Memorial Series, vol. 14.) 

Tarikh-i Guzidah, ed. and tr. J. Gantin. Vol. 1, Paris, 


Ndldeke, Theodor. Das iranische Nationalepos. In Grundriss der 
iranischen Philologie, vol. 2, pp. 130-211, Strassburg, 1896-1904. 

Pickering, Charles J. Three articles on Persian literature in the 
National Review, vol. 15, London, 1890 : (a) A Persian Chaucer, 
pp. 327-340; (6) The Beginnings of Persian Literature, pp. 
673-687 ; (c) The Last Singers of Bukhara, pp. 815-823. [See 
the remarks below, p. 32 n. 2, p. 47 n. 1.] 

Pizzi, Italo. Chrestomathie persane, avec un abrege de la gram- 
maire et un dictionnaire. Turin, 1889. 

Storia della poesia persiana. 2 vols. Turin, 1894. 

Manuale di letteratura persiana. Milan, 1887. [Sketch.] 

Shams ad-Din. Al-Mu'jam fi Maayiri Ashari *l-'Ajam, a Treatise on 

the Prosody and Poetic Art of the Persians, by Shamsu 'd-Dm 
Muhammad ibn Qays ar-Razi, edited by Mirza Muhammad of 
Qazwin. London and Leyden, 1909. (Gibb Memorial Series, 
vol. 10.) 


For full titles of publications cited in abbreviated form in the footnotes, consult 
the List of Works of Reference, pages xvi-xviii. 

A. H (Anno Hegirae), Muhammadan era. 

Bh inscription of Darius at Behistan. 

c (circa), about. 

Cat Catalogue. 

ch chapter. 

Chr Chrestomathie. 

d died. 

ed edition, edited by. 

fl (floruit), flourished. 

fol folio. 

fols folios. 

Grundr. . . . Grundriss der iranischen Philologie. 

id. .... (idem), the same author. 

JRAS. . . . Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 

loc. cit. . . . (loco citato), at the place previously cited. 

M. F. ... Morgenlandische Forschungen. 

Mem Memorial. 

n note. 

op. cit. . . . (opus citatum), the work previously cited. 

r recto (in manuscripts). 

Sitzb Sitzungsberichte. 

tr translation, translated by. 

Vd., Vend. . . Vendidad. 

Yt Yasht. 

ZDMG. . . . Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Ge- 



Transliteration of names with diacritical marks added to denote the more 
technical spelling, and with dates g^ven wherever possible. 

(Names only incidentally mentioned are omitted here ; for fuller references consult 


'Abbas of Mer7. A pioneer in Persian poetry, master also of Arabic. Died 

815 or 816 a.d. 
Abu '1-Muzaffar. In fnller form, Abu 'l-Muzaffar Nasr al-Istighna'i of 

Nishapiir. A Samanid poet. Tenth century a.d. 
Abu Nasr of Gilan. From this Samanid poet, Abu '1-Malik Nasr Gilani, a 

stanza is preserved. Latter part of the 10th century a.d. is the pre- 
sumable date. 
Abu Sa'id. The noted Persian mystic poet (to be discussed, it is hoped, in 

a later volume, cf. p. 58). Born 967, died 1049 a.d. 
Abii Salik of Gurgan. A poet of the later Saffarid period. Flourished 

about the end of the 9th century a.d. 
Abu Shukiir of Balkh. A poet of the earlier Samanid period. Flourished 

about 941 A.D., and completed the Afarln-ndmah, a work now lost, in 

947-948 a.d. (a. h. 336). 
Aghachi (or Aghaji). In fuller form, Abu '1-Hasan 'Ali ibn Ilyas al-Aghachi 

of Bukhara. A warrior-poet of the later Samanid period. About the 

middle of the 10th century a.d. or somewhat later. 
"AsjadT. In fuller form, 'Abdu 'l-'Aziz b. Mansur 'Asjadi. Associated 

with Firdausi as a poet at Mahmiid's court. Flourished 1025 a.d. 
Avicenna. See Ibn Sina. 
Bahrain Gur. Sasanian king, whom legend recounts to have composed 

verses. Reigned 420-438 a.d. 
Barbad. Sasanian minstrel, called by Persian writers Barbad, and by Arab 

authors Bahlabad, Balahbad, or Fahlabad, being various forms of an 

older Persian Pahlapat. Flourished 600 a.d. 
Dakiki. In fuller form, Abu IVIansiir Muhammad Ibrahim b. Ahmad 

ad-Dakiki of Tus. Poet of the latter part of the Samanid period, and 

noted as Firdausi's predecessor in the epic. Died after 975 a.d. 
Farrukhi. In fuller form, Abu '1-Hasan 'Ali b. Juliigh (or Kuliigh) of 

Sistan. Associated as a poet with Firdausi at Mahmiid's court. Died 

1037 or 1038 a.d. 
Firdausi. The famous epic poet of Persia. His name Firdausi is a poetic 

title, * of the Garden ' or ' of Paradise.' In fuller form, Abu '1-Kasim 

Hasan b. 'All of Tiis, though there are variations in the nomenclature. 

About 935-1025 a.d. 


Firuz al-Mashriki. A poet of the later Saffarid period. Flourished about 
WH» A.I). 

Haozalah of Badghis. A poet of the Tahirid period. Flourished about 
b50 A.i>. 

Ibn Sina, or Avicenna. The famous philosopher, physician, and poet (to be 
discussed, it is hoped, iu a later volume, cf. p. 57). Born 980, died 
1037 A.D. 

Junaidi. In fuller form, Abu "Abdu 'llah Muhammad al-Junaidl. A bi- 
lingual poet (Persian and Arabic) of the Samanid period. Tenth 
century A.n. 

Khabbaz of Nishapur. The baker-poet and physician ; earlier Samanid 
period. Died 95;3 A.D. 

Khabbaz's son. Abu 'Ali ibn Hakim Khabbaz. Composed verses ; see pre- 
ceding entry regarding his father as a poet. 

Khusrau Parviz. Sasanian king, to whom the composition of a couplet may 
possibly be ascribed. Reigned 590-628 a.d. 

Khasravani. In fuller form, Abii Tahir at-Tabib (' the Physician ' or at- 
Tayyib, ' the Sweet ') b. Muhammad al-Khusravani. A Samanid poet. 
Tenth century a.d. 

Kisa'L In fuller form, Abu Ishak (or Abu '1-IIasan) Kisa'i, ' the Man of the 
Cloak.' A poet of the later Samanid period, who lived on, it seems, 
somewhat beyond that time. Date of death generally supposed to be 
1002 A.D., but possibly later. 

Mahmud of Ghaznah. Famous ruler, and said to have been himself a poet 
as well as a patron of poets, especially of Firdausi. Reigned 998- 

1030 A.D. 

Mantiki of Rai. In fuller form, Mansiir b. 'Ali al-Mantiki of Rai. A Bu- 
waihid poet. Flourished in the latter half of the 10th century a.d. 

Huntasir. In fuller form, Abu Ibrahim Isma'il Muntasir. Last of the 
Samanid princes, and a poet. Died 1005 a.d. 

Riidagi, or Rudaki. In fuller form, Abii 'Abdu 'llah Ja'far ibn Muhammad 
ar-Riidagi (or Rudaki). The most noted of the Samanid poets. About 
880-954 A.D. 

Shahid of Balkh. A poet of the earlier Samanid period. Died about 950 a.d. 

Shukiir. See Abii Shukiir. 

'Umarah of Merv. In fuller form, Abii Mansiir b. Muhammad (or Ahmad) 
'Umarah. Poet and astronomer (compare later, Omar Khayyam), of 
the later Samanid and the early Ghaznavid periods. Flourished end 
of the 10th and beginning of the 11th century a.d. 

'Unsuri. In fuller form, Abu '1-Kasim' b. Ahmad 'Unsuri of Balkh. Poet 
laureate at the court of Mahmiid of Ghaznah, and famed through asso- 
ciation with Firdausi's name. Died 1040 or 1050 a.d. 


A brief remark on the pronunciation of Persian may be of some service 
to the reader. 

The accent of all Persian words, with few exceptions, is on the last 
syllable, and this method of accentuation may in general be adopted 
throughout the book. 

The vowels and diphthongs have, in the main, the Continental, or 
Italian, value. 

The consonant (] is always hard, as in ' go ', ' give ' ; kh is spirant, as in 
Scotch 'loch' or German ' noch ' ; zh is likewise spirant, as in 'azure'; gh 
is similarly a spirant, a sort of roughened g. 

It is not necessary here to enter into a discussion of minor details regard- 
ing the matter of pronunciation. For a similar reason I have omitted, in 
the body of the text, all diacritical marks which would indicate the length 
of vowels or differentiate between certain consonants in Persian names. 
These diacritical signs, however, will be found in the Alphabetical List of 
Poets which I have included as part of the introductory matter (p. xx). 
They may also be found in the very occasional transliterations from the 
Persian which I have given in italics. I hope that neither the general 
reader nor the specialist may be embarrassed by my method in either case. 





(From before 600 b.c. to about 650 a.d.) 

' Metre of an antique song.' 

— Shakespeare, Sonnets, 17. 12. 

Persia has always been a land of poetry, nor has the 
lyric quality ever been lost from the voice of her people. 
The guide who leads the traveller's cavalcade Persia a 
across the mountains, and the master of the ^^^^ °^ Poetry 
caravan, as he heads the long camel train that winds its 
slow way among the hills, can each troll snatches of verse 
from poets centuries old. The nightingale still pleads with 

the rose 

' That sallow cheek of hers t' incarnadine,' 

and the plaintive note of the wood-pigeon seems yet to 
harmonize in poetic tenderness with the delicate per- 
fume of the narcissus. Even the rays of the dawning 
sun and the soft glances of the rising moon, as they touch 
the slender form of the tapering cypress, call back to the 
heart, as of yore, the myriad' images used by the Persian 
lover in paying court to the graceful damsel of his choice. 
The beginnings of Persia's poetry are lost in the mists 
of antiquity. And yet — if we may judge from analogy 


— we shall probably not be far astray if we say that the 
earliest poetry was of two types, the ballad and the epic. 
Beginnings The ballad, which was later to develop into 
Obscure ^^q]^ diverse forms as the lyric, hymn, satire, 
and panegyric, is, first of all, the recounting of a tale, 
and the epic itself is but a magnified and polished ballad, 
so that all poetry was probably, at its original inception, 
a ballad. The epic type in Persian poetry is admu-ably 
represented in finished form in Firdausi's Shah-namah, or 
*Book of Kings,' which sets forth in measured cadence, 
more easy to be remembered by the narrator than prose, 
the deeds of the heroes of the race.^ 

Of the hypothetical primitive ballad no traces remain 

in Persian literature, nor is it with love poetry that the 

earliest Iranian records begin. For in Persia, as in other 

zarathushtra 1^^^^ of the East, the earliest note of poetry 

or Zoroaster, — at least SO far as extant specimens go — 

Seventh Cen- „ , . , , 

tury B.C. or burst forth m a prophet s song. It was the 
Earlier yoice of Zarathushtr a, or Zoroaster, the 
great religious teacher of Persia, in the seventh century 
B.C. or earlier, chanting in fervid tones an anthem of 
divine praise. His cry broke the silence of the night 
perchance in some mountainous cavern in Northwestern 
Iran, or heralded the morn as he wandered priestlike 
through the borders of Persia, preaching the story of 
his communings with the god Ormazd and the arch- 

1 Cf . L. H. Gray, in Encyclop. Relig. Prophet of Ancient Iran, pp. 34, 40-61, 
and Ethics, 6. 2, d. (art. ' Fiction '). New York, 1899. 
' Cf. Jackson, Zoroaster, the 


And what is the burden of these ancient chants, or 
psalms in verse ? It is now a vision of heaven and the 
future life, and now an appeal to mankind to repent, 
to abandon the way of the wicked, and to fol- Zoroaster's 
low the path of righteousness. For a moment ^°cientPsaims 
there may be a note of despondency in the tone, since 
deaf ears hearken not to his inspired word ; but comfort 
is always at hand ; it is to be found in God and in the 
marvelous works of His creation. Hence rises to the 
prophet's lips the impassioned question to his Maker in 
that hymn of the Avesta, or Sacred Book of Zoroaster, 
which begins with the refrain, 

Tat Thwa pdrdsa dras moi vaoca Ahurd 
This I ask Thee — tell it to me truly, Lord 

the ancient rhythm and divisions of three stanzas of 
which I attempt to imitate here in my translation. 


This I ask Thee — tell it to me truly, Lord ! 

Who the Sire was, Father first of Holiness ? 

Who the pathway for the sun and stars ordained ? 

Who, through whom is't moon doth wax and wane again ? 

This and much else do I long, God, to know. 

This I ask Thee — tell it to me truly. Lord ! 

Who set firmly earth below, and kept the sky 

Sure from falling ? Who the streams and trees did make ? 

Who their swiftness to the winds and clouds hath yoked ? 

Who, Mazda, was the Founder of Good Thought? 

This I ask Thee — tell it to me truly. Lord ! 
Who, benignant, made the darkness and the light ? 


Who, benignant, sleep and waking did create ? 
Who the morning, noon, and evening did decree 
As reminders to the wise, of duty's call ? ^ 

His own soul knows the answer, since Ahura Mazdah 
(Ormazd) and the celestial hierarchy form ever the theme 
of Zoroaster's song. These psalms — Gathas, ' hymns, 
anthems,' they are called — give the outpourings of the 
seer's heart in rhythmic measures that resemble in meter 
the Vedic verses of the bards of ancient India, though 
somewhat later than the Vedas in time of composition.^ 

There are touches of poetry throughout the Avestan 

Yashts, or * praises ' in metrical stanzas glorifying the 

The Avestan various personifications of divine powers or 

Yashts ^j^g demigods and heroes of the faith. These 
compositions in verse, sometimes mingled with prose, are 
later than the Gathas in language and in time of redac- 
tion, though metrically (and in certain religious aspects) 
older. The simplicity of the meter in the Yashts shows 
a more antique phase than the elaborate Gathic rhythms, 
and possibly the mixture of prose and verse may be older 
than is commonly thought ; but this mixture is exphcable 
in more than one way. The Yashts, moreover, are doubt- 
less the work of various hands, still inspired by Zoroaster, 
but using material that presents religious aspects in part 
older than his time. 

1 From the Avesta (ed. Geldner, stanza) ; 4 + 7 (5 verses) ; 4+7 (4 
1. 148), Yasna 44. 3-5. The two last verses) ; 7 + 7 (3 verses) ; 7 + 5 and 
lines of stanza 5 refer to the three 7+7 + 5 (2 verses each) ; (7 + 9) + 
times for daily prayer. (3 + 5) ; 4 + 7 (2 verses) and 3 + 5 

2 The Gatha meters are of seven (one verse) twice repeated, 
types : 7+9 syllables (3 verses in a 

A Page of ax Avkstax ]\rAxr.s( kipt with Pahlavi 


(From the Avestan Maimscript Jp. 1 in the CuUiuibia University Library) 

[ To face paye 4 ] 


The metrical stanzas of the Yashts, like numerous other 
parts of the Avesta, are composed in a somewhat free 
octosyllabic measure that resembles the Kalevala verse, 
so familiar to us through Longfellow's ' Hiawatha ' ; and 
sometimes a Yasht passage rises to the height of real 
poetry. At random might be chosen a few lines from the 
tenth Yasht, a composition that is devoted entirely to 
extolling the grandeur of Mithra as next only in the 
angelic host to the Supreme Lord, Ahura Mazdah, or 
Ormazd. Mithra, the angel of truth and the embodiment 
of the sun's light, rides forth majestic in his chariot across 
the heavens, guiding and watching over men, even in the 
battle which his mighty power sets in motion, or sternly 
punishing the sinner that breaks his word and pledge. 
Here may be cited a stanza from the Mithra Yasht in 
transliteration and translation : 

YASHT 10. 13-14 
Yo paoiryo mainyavo yazato 
taro Haram dsnaoiti 
paurva-naemat amdsahe 
hu yat aurvat-aspalie. 
To paoiryo zaranyd-pnso 
srird bardsnava gdrawnditi 
a8dt vlspdvi ddiSditi 
Airyo-sayanam savisto, 
yahmya sdstdro aurva 
paoiris Ira rdzayente 

Mithra, the celestial angel, 
Foremost climbeth Mount Haraiti (Alburz) 
In advance o' the sun immortal, 


Which is drawn by fleeting coursers. 
He, the first, in gold adornment 
Grasps the beauteous lofty summits ; 
Thence beneficent he glanceth 
Over all the Aryan home-land, 
Where the valiant chiefs in battle 
Range their troops in countless numbers.* 

Poetic strains may be caught here and there in other 
parts of the Avesta — sometimes embedded in the midst 
of prosaic passages — but they are not over-many in 
number .2 Sufi&cient, however, they are to show that the 
musical chord was struck nearly three thousand years ago 
in ancient Iran. 

The note perhaps was sounded festally at even an 

earher date, far back in the legendary reign of King 

Legends of Jamshid (which tradition fancifully places at 

Ancient Song ^j^^^^^ gQQQ ^^.-^^ f^j, ^^^^ imagination of the 

poet Firdausi heard echoes of the bard singing at the 
New Year's banquet in the court of that monarch in the 
Golden Age of Iran.^ Catches of song, moreover, if we 
may believe the romantic history by Xenophon, enlivened 
the merry bouts in which the Median monarch Astyages 
indulged, in the days when Cyrus the Great was still 
a boy.^ 

The pillared halls of the great Achaemenian kings 
Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, at Persepolis, must hkewise 

1 Avesta, Yasht 10. 13-14. Livre des rois, 1. 37 ; Warner, Shd?i- 

2 On poetry in the Avesta compare ndma, 1. 34 ; see also Mirkhond, His- 
also J. H. Moulton, Early Religious tory of the Early Kings of Persia, tr. 
Poetry of Persia, Cambridge, 1911. Shea, p. 107, London, 1832. 

3 Firdausi, /S/iaA-nama^, ed. Vullers *Ci. Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 1. 3. 
and Landauer, 1, 26, 1. 55 ; cf. tr. Mohl, 10. 


have echoed at times to the ring of the poet's minstrelsy. 
We may at least infer this from the fact that, late in the 
foiui:h century B.C., Chares of Mytilene re- ^^ qj^ 
ported that the Greeks in Alexander's train Romance 

retold in 

had heard ' barbarians ' (Persians) singing the Achaemenian 
tale of the romantic love of Zariadres and ""*^ 

Odatis, a story in which the lover is first seen by the 
heroine in a dream and later wins her hand in marriage. 
So well known and prized among all the peoples of Asia 
was this romance that, as Chares adds, ' they have repre- 
sented the story in paintings in their temples and palaces, 
and even in their own private houses.' ^ A theme hke 
this must have furnished inspiration to more than one 
poet, especially as the name Zariadres represents the 
Avestan Zairivairi, the brother of Zoroaster's patron, 
Vishtaspa, and hero of the first of the holy wars as re- 
counted later in a Pahlavi prose epic fragment and in 
Firdausi's poetic Shah-namah? Although no verses of 
the original love-story of Zariadres (Zairivairi, Zarir) and 

1 So Chares of Mytilene in the Andreas, in Rohde, Der griechische 

tenth book of his 'History of Alex- iJoman, 3 ed. p. 48, note, Leipzig, 1914. 

ander,' as cited by Athenaeu-s, Deip- 2 j-or references to Zairivairi in the 

nosophistae, 13, ch. 35 ; tr. Yonge, 3. Avesta (Yt. 5. 112 seq. ; 13. 101), and 

919-920, London, 1854. Compare in the Pahlavi prose epic Vdfkdr-i 

also Rapp, in ZDMG. 20. 65 ; Zarlrdn, as Zarer, and in Firdausi's 

Darmesteter, ies Oriyines de la poesie Shdh-ndmah, as Zarir, see Jackson, 

persane, p. 2, Paris, 1887 ; id. Le Zoroaster, pp. 104-115, footnotes. 

Zend-Avesta, 3, p. Ixxxi ; and es- . The name Zairivairi in Avestan means 

pecially G. Cowell, Life of Edward ' having a yellow (brass) breastplate ' ; 

Bj/ies Coioeii, pp. 27-31, London, 1904 ; and Odatis would be presumably the 

and E. B. Cowell, A Persian Legend equivalent of an assumable Avestan 

of Athenaeus, in Gentleman's Maga- adjective hii-zditi, ' of good birth ' ; cf . 

zine, July, 1847, pp. 25-29 ; cf. also Justi, Iranisches NaTuenbrich, pp. 382, 

Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 73, n. 6 ; and 231, Marburg, 1896. 


Odatis remain, Firdausi, in a different connection, has 
woven into the narrative of his great epic certain inci- 
dents of the story that are easy to recognize.^ 

We may be sure that the minstrel's craft did not dis- 
appear, though it may have languished, during the dark 
ages of the Parthian rule in the centuries 
Parthian Rec- directly preceding and following the Christian 
ords (250 B.C.- Qj.^ — ^i^g very time when Iran was at war 

224 AD.) _ ^ ^ 

with Rome. 2 Yet it must remain a source of 
regret to us that it is no longer possible to cite a single 
verse which dates from that particular era, nor has even 
any Hterary monument in prose survived from the Par- 
thian period, though some sporadic passages of the Avesta 
may possibly date from Parthian times. ^ 

Certain we are, however, that the poet's art was a 

cherished one in Sasanian times, or from the third to the 

^ ,-x- . seventh century a.d., even though all the lit- 

Traditionof -^ ' ° 

Sasanian erary remains that have survived in the Pah- 

lavi, or Middle Persian of that period and 

later, have come down in prose.* Tradition, however, has 

1 Firdausi in the Shdh-ndmah (tr. (tr. Yonge, 1. 235), which would be 
Mohl, 4. 238-243 ; Warner, 4. 329-332) applicable to Parthian as well as Sasa^ 
makes Zarir's brother Gushtasp and nian times, if we may judge from the 
the beautiful Ivitayun (or Katabun) allusions to Bahram Gur, below, p. 
the hero and heroine in a striking 10, n. 4. 

episode of his great heroic poem, which s For a discussion of the problem 

practically parallels the love-story of (with reference to Darmesteter's 

Zariadres and Odatis, as told above. theory) see Geldner, in Grundr. 2. 

Cf. also the references on p. 7, n. 2. 33-39. 

2 For the custom of the Persian * Attempts to find verse in the ex- 
kings having songs and music at their tant Pahlavi works, including the 
suppers we have the authority of Hera- Ydtkdr-i Zanrdn and the Kdrndmak-i 
cleides of Kyme (fourth century b.c.) Artakhshir-i Pdpakdn, have thus far 
as cited by Athenaeus, Deipn. 4. 26 proved unsuccessful, even though the 


preserved the names of at least three court poets, besides 
Barbad (mentioned below) and the harper Sakisa (or 
Nakisa), who was no doubt also a poet singer ; but they 
are mere umbrae nominum} 

Legend tells likewise of two well-known Sasanian Kings 
who could turn a verse, and to one of these, Bah ram 
Gur (420-438 a.d.), in company with his 

^ ^' . King Bahrain 

beloved Dilaram, * Heartsease,' the invention Gur aa a Poet 
of the rhyming couplet in Persian is ascribed, '**°"^^ 
the music of their souls springing to their lips in 
rhythmic verse. According to the story as preserved 
in native sources, it was on an occasion when Dilaram, 
the beautiful, had accompanied her lord upon a lion 
hunt. Bahram, upon encountering the lion, grappled 
with it and held it captive by the ears, then glorified 
his prowess by likening himself, in what happened to 
be cadenced words, to a wild elephant and a ram- 
pant lion. Dilaram caught up the cadence in the same 
meter and compared him to a lofty mountain, the line 
ending in a word that rhymed with the close of 

subjects of the two latter heroic and al-Baihaki, Kitdh al-Mahdsin (ed. 

romantic stories are found versified Van Vloten), p. 363 ; and the harper 

later by Firdausi in the Shdh-ndmah. Sakisa occurs in Nizami's Khusrau 

Consult Horn, Gesch. d. pers. Litt. and Shlrln, as referred to by Browne, 

pp. 43-44, Leipzig, 1901 ; and espe- A Literary History of Persia, 1. 18, 

cially Horn, Asadi's neupersisches London and New York, 1902. But the 

Worterbuch Lughat-i Furs, pp. 16-17, name Sakisa is written Nakisa in the 

Berlin, 1897, where mention is made Nizami Mss. 7 and 8 described in Jack- 

of F. C. Andreas's view that the Haji- son and Yohannan, Cat. Pers. Mss., 

abad Inscription contains a metrical New York, 1914 ; and it appears as 

passage. Nakiyya in the lithographed ed. pub. 

1 The names of the three minstrels at Teheran, 1312 a.h. (=1894 a.d.). 

referred to are Afarin, Khusravani, Query — cf. p. 12, n. 2, and Justi, /ran. 

and Madharaatani, as recorded by 2^a7»en6ucA, p. 289 (' Sarkaa ') ? 


his.^ Thus was rhyme born ! But there are other stories, 
besides, regarding the origin of Persian rhyme.^ 

We have also the authority of the earliest extant biog- 
raphy of the Persian poets, the work of Aufi (fl. 1210- 
1235 A.D.), for the statement that ' Bahram Gur was the 
first who composed Persian verse,' and that he had seen 
a collection of his Arabic poems in Bukhara, from which 
he quotes fragments of odes in Arabic, together with the 
two Persian rhyming verses.^ Firdausi still earlier rep- 
resents Bahram as taking delight in verses that were 
chanted to him to the accompaniment of the lute.^ But 
even if ' that great hunter ' may not have had renown as 
a king-poet, he nevertheless gave inspiration to many a 
later Persian verse by his adventurous deeds, and he thus 
well deserves a share in the fame. 

To another sovereign of the House of Sasan, the roman- 
tic and kingly lover Khusrau Parviz (590-628 a.d.), 
may possibly be ascribed a rhyming distich engraved on 
the walls of the palace of the beautiful Shirin, at Kasr-i 

1 For this story see Daulatshah, ad-Din ibn Kais, al-Mujam (ed. Mirza 

Tadhkiratu ''sh-Shu'ard, ed. Browne, Muhammad, in Gibb Memorial 10), 

pp. 28-29, London, 1901; and compare p. 169. 

Browne, Lit. Hist, of Persia, 1. 12 ; 2 See Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 12-13. 

Blochmann, Prosody of the Persians, ^ Aufi, Lubdb al-Albdb, chap. 4 

p. 2, Calcutta, 1872 ; Eth6, Die hbfische (beginning), cf. ed. Browne and Mirza 

und romantische Poesie der Perser, Muhammad, 1. 20, London, 1906; 

p. 1, Hamburg, 1887 ; id. RudagTs Eth6, in Morg. Forsch. p. 36 ; and 

Vorldufer, in Morgenldndische For- cf. Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 262. 

schungen, p. 36 ; Darmesteter, Les Ori- ^ cf, Shdh-ndmah, tr. Mohl, vol. 5, 

gines de la poesie persane, p. 1 ; Pizzi, pp. 446, 474, 476, 499-500, 509-510, 

Storia delta poesia persiana, 1. 65, 516, 517 ; tr. Warner, 7. 51-52, etc. 

Turin, 1894 ; Costello, Bose Garden of Observe in this connection the refer- 

Persia, pp. iv-v ; Horn, Gesch. d. ence to Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 4. 

pers. Litt. p. 47. Consult also Shams 26, given above, p. 8, n. 2. 


Shirin, and still legible in the tenth century. The au- 
thority for this is Daulatshah in the fifteenth centiu-y, 
who cites in his memoirs of the Persian poets 
the statement of Abu Tahir of Khatun to ascnbabieto 
the effect that < in the time of Azud ad-Daulah ^ihusrau ii 

(590-628 A.D.) 

of Dailam [who was a Buwailiid prince 
of the tenth century a.d.] there was found on an inscrip- 
tion upon the palace at Kasr-i Shirin (" Shirin's Palace ") 
in the region of Khanikin, which was not then entirely in 
ruins, the following couplet written in the antique Persian 

style ': ^ 

huzhira, ba-gaihdn anushah hi-zi 
jihan ra ba-dldar toshak bari 


Ah, Beauteous One ! Upon this earth, happy for aye do live ! 
Since to the world by thy mere glance such joyance thou dost give.* 

I had in memory the lines of this distich, which may 
reasonably be ascribed directly to Khusrau Parviz himself, 
as I wandered among the ruins of Kasr-i Shirin when 
coming from Khanikin on my fourth journey to Persia in 
1918; but I could find no traces of any inscribed stones 
among the debris ; yet a careful search may some day 
unearth a stone or a tablet, which may bear still more 
lasting witness to the enamored verse of a Sasanian king. 

1 Daulatshah, Tadhkiratu "sh-Shu- garding this couplet consult, further- 
'ard (ed. Browne), p. 29. more, A. de Biberstein Kazimirski, 

2 Ordinarily the meaning of toshah, Ditan de Menoutchehrl, p. 7, Paris, 
tushah in Persian is 'sustenance,' but 1886, where a slightly different reading 
I have rendered it by ' joyance,' cf. and a somewhat different translation 
Skt. toaa, 'satisfaction, comfort.' Re- and interpretation are given. 


The fact that Khusrau was also a patron of poetry is 

shown by the honor that he paid to the minstrel Bar bad, 

« . , .^ or Bah lab ad, the sweet singer of his court.^ 

Barbad, the ' ° 

Sasanian Bard The story goes — and it is told by Firdausi — 
that this gifted bard first won the king's 
ear by singing a ballad as he stood hidden amidst the 
branches of a cypress tree in the royal garden on a moon- 
light night.^ So great was the minstrel's favor with the 
monarch that when the king's horse Shabdiz, * Black-as- 
night,' died, the courtiers selected Barbad as the only one 
who might venture to break the news to his Majesty, for 
Khusrau had sworn to kill the man that ever should bear 
these tidings to him. With consummate art the child of 
the Muses contrived to weave the tale into verse, accom- 
panied by the plaintive wail of his lute, until Khusrau 
himself, in listening to the strain, suddenly divined the 
truth and cried out, 'Ah, woe is me! My horse Shabdiz 
is dead ! ' ^ 

Thus from those ages long ago the gentle thrum of the 
lute strings — the true accompaniment of poesy — still 
faintly echoes ; and that echo makes us wish that we 

1 Persian authors give the poet's Justi, Iran. Namenbuch, p. 63 

name as Barbad, but Arabic writers as (' Barbad ') , p. 237 (' Pahlapet ') . 

Ba^Ja6ad, which more correctly points 2 pirdausi, Shdh-ndmah, tr. Mohl, 

back to an older Pahlavi-Persian form, Le Livre des rois, 7. 255-260; Fir- 

Pahlapat. See Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. dausi (loc. cit.) gives also the name of 

14-15, where an excellent series of the rival minstrel, Sargish, whom 

references to Bahlabad, Barbad, in Barbad supplanted in Khusrau's favor. 

Persian and Arabic sources is given ; s gee also Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 17- 

and compare also Browne, The Sources 18. Regarding a request made also to 

of Dawlatshdh . . . and an Excursus Barbad by Shirin, to remind Khusrau 

on Barbad and RUdagi, in JRAS. of a promise, see Browne, in JBAS. 

1899, pp. 37-69. Consult likewise 1899, p. 60. 

/ ~ i >/■ \ \ • , , i 

-^.-jjVi/^./ Vj^/^'I."*?! U/^'^ifr^'A 



jl. -.■^L,';.,Ccff? j^^'/i-^'^^^-^' j''vr^'A.v, 

King Kju skac Pakviz and thk Mixstkkl livKUAD 

(From the Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscript's in the Meti-opolitan 

Museum of Art, New York) 

[ To fare paye 12'\ 


might have been fortunate enough to catch even a few 
strains also from others of those bards who sang in 
Pahlavi, the national language of Sasanian Persia in the 
seventh century a.d., before the cataclysm of the Arab 
Conquest. The tuneful numbers of their verse, alas, 
have passed away ; but the names at least of some of these 
minstrels hved long enough after the Moslem invasion to 
prove to the victors that, two centuries later, the hushed 
music of Persian poetry would again awake to ring with 
the old-time spirit of Iran. 



(From about 800 to 900 a.d.) 

' Disjecti membra poetae.' 

— Horace, Satires, 1, 4, 62. 

The Moslem Conquest meant to Persia in many respects 

what the Norman Conquest meant to England. The battles 

of Kadisia and Nahavand (637, 642 a.d.) were 

madan Con- ^^^ Hastings of Persia ; and with the murder 

quest (Seventh ^f ^]^q \^q^ Sasanian king, in 651, Persia came 

Century A.D.) ° 

under the Muhammadan rule of the Arabs. 
There followed, in consequence, an infiltration of foreign 
blood, a certain amount of fusion in language, a partial 
blending in thought. But beyond the sacrifice — great 
as it was — of giving up the old national religion of Zoro- 
astrianism, vanquished Iran yielded little more to the 
victorious Arab than Britain gave up to the invading 
Norman, If the Persian vocabulary took on something of 
a foreign tinge, the poetic verse flowed the smoother for 
it; and if the freedom of religious thought was fettered 
for a time by the bonds of Islam, the true Persian spirit 
threw off the shackles two centuries later, when it achieved 
a semi-independence of its own upon the decline of the 



Caliphate at Baghdad in the ninth century a.d., and with 
this emancipation began the re-establishment of its national 
life and laid the foundations for a renaissance in the 
realm of letters.^ 

Beginnings may be small, but great results may follow. 
Such was the case: with the reborn art of poesy in the 
Province of the Sun. The infant cry was poetry 
slender at first, muffled by the stifling hand of ^'''°'° 
Islam, but it was the vox humana. Poetry, nursed for 
two hundred years by the fostering care of three princely 
dynasties of the truer Iranian blood — Tahirid (820-872), 
Saffarid (860-903), Samanid (874-999), not to mention 
the Buwaihids (also of the tenth century), or the eleventh 
century Ghaznavids of Afghanistan — was destined to 
grow in grace and stature until the thin register of its 
voice changed into the manly tone of a Firdausi with all 
the virility of the race within its compass. 

The mastery of the newer speech, with its infusion of 
Arabic — the Pahlavi tongue having now been transformed 
into New Persian — was already complete, and could 
develop only in range and power of expression. The 
language, in fact, has ever since remained essentially the 
same, so that Persian has changed far less in a thousand 
years than has English in the comparatively brief period 
from Shakespeare to the present.^ 

The cradle of the literary renaissance was Eastern Iran, 

1 Cf. also Browne, Lit. Hist, of Per- Misteli, Neupersisch und Englisch, in 
aia, 1. 6, 339-341. Philologische Abhandlungen Schwei- 

2 On the curiously analogous devel- zer-Sidler gewidmet, pp. 28-35, Zuricli, 
opment of Persian and English cf. 1891. 


or the provinces of Khurasan and Transoxiana. The 
city of Merv, the ruins of which may still be visited in 
the environs of the modern town that perpetuates the 
name in Russian Turkistan, was the scene. This ancient 
city, the Zoroastrian Marghu of the Avesta,^ and * Queen 
of the World/ as it was entitled in medieval times, had 
witnessed the death of the last Sasanian king, but was 
Abbas of Merv destined to witness also the rebirth of Persian 
Td 8*i°*or P^^^^y? ^^^ within its walls was born, some- 
816A.D.) time before 800 a.d., Abbas of Merv, to 
whom common tradition, rightly or wrongly, ascribes the 
renown of being the earliest minstrel to chant verse in 
the newer Persian tongue.^ 

The occasion which inspired the ejBfusion of the poet 
was the triumphal entry made, in 809, by the Caliph 
Mamun, the son of Harun ar-Rashid of Arabian Nights 
fame. Abbas, as a bard, was chosen to greet the monarch 
with a panegyric in celebration of the event ; and though 
on other occasions he had made use of Arabic as the vehicle 
for his poetic compositions, he now chose his native Persian 
to be the medium of his encomium. A few of these laud- 
atory lines to Mamun have been preserved; and in fancy 
we can hear a faltering accent in the minstrel's tone as he 
apologetically sings : 

1 Avesta, Vend. 1. 5, 7 ; Yasht, 10. accepted by scholars, but is questioned 
14 ; and of. in the Old Persian Inscrip- by A. de Biberstein Kazimirski, Divan 
tions, Bh. 2. 7 ; 3. 11 ; 4. 25. de Menoutchehri, pp. 8-9, Paris, 1886, 

2 The year of the death of Abbas and Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 13, 341 ; 2. 
of Merv is recorded as (200 a.h. =) 13. Consult Pizzi, Storia dellapoesia 
815 or 816 a.d. The authenticity of persiana, 1. 66. 

the verses ascribed to him is generally 



Before me no poet as yet, an ode in this fashion hath sung, 

There is lack in the Persian speech, in this manner of verse to begin ; 

Yet that is the reason I chose in this language TJiy praises to sing, 
That through lauding and praising Thy Highness, real grace and 
true charm it may "win.^ 

Perhaps a better idea of the lilt of the original stanza 
may be obtained from a transcript of the Persian lines 
themselves : 

Kas bar-in minvdl pish az man chimin shiri na-guft, 

Mar zahdn-i Pdrsi rd hast td in nau'-i bain; 
Lek z-dn gujiam man in midhat turd td in lughat, 
Glrad az madh xi §and'-i hazrat-i tu zib u zain.^ 

Echoes of the verse, no doubt, were heard throughout the 
land, for other poets were emboldened, as a consequence, 
to raise their voice in their own vernacular. One of these 
bards was Hanzalah of Badghis^ (about 

° ^ Hanzalah 

850 A.D.), who hved in the time of the of Badghis 
Tahirids (820-872 a.d.), a dynasty more fa- ^^^^'^"soa.d.) 
vorable to Arabic than to Persian culture. The early 
Persian biographer, Aufi, praises the verses of Hanzalah 
by saying, ^ the graceful flow of his expression is like the 
"Water of Paradise, and his verses have the freshness of 
cool wine (shamiil) and the agreeableness of the northern 
wind (shamal).' ^ So well known were the poems of 

1 In rendering I have preserved the schrift an Fleischer), pp. 37-38, Leip- 
original rhyme 6 d of the Persian. zig, 1875. 

2 Aufi, Lubdb al-Albdb, 1. 21, ed. s jjadghis was the name of a district 
Browne and Muhammad al-KazvinI, northwest of Herat. 

1. 21, London, 1906 ; cf . Eth6, Euda- * Aufi, Lubdb al-Albdb, 2. 2, ed. 

gVs Vorldufer und Zeitgenossen, in Browne, London, 1903 ; and Eth6, in 
Morgenldndiache Forschungen (Fest- Morg. Forsch. p. 39. 


Hanzalah that they were worth gathering into a Persian 
Divan, or 'Collection,' only a few fragments of which, 
however, remain.^ Here is a quatrain (the earliest ruhai 
thus far quotable), which contains an odd conceit founded 
on an old superstition ; the poet warns his sweetheart that 
it is futile for her to throw rue-seed on the fire to avert 
the influence of the evil eye.^ 


Though rue into the fire my dear one threw, 
Lest from the evil eye some harm accrue, 

'Twould naught avail her — either rue or fire ; 
Her face the fire — her beauteous mole the rue ! ' 

More potent, however, was the charm in another stanza 
ascribed to Hanzalah, for it inspired a simple ass-herd 
to win a crown. Chancing one day to read four of 
Hanzalah's verses, this donkey-driver became fired with 
the ambition to make an attempt to gain the throne ; 
and, rising triumphant over every obstacle, he finally 
grasped the sovereignty. The inspiring stanza which 
served the ass-herd king, Ahmad of Khujistan, as a motto 
for his life's success was this : 

1 Mention of the Divdn of Hanzalah Khayyam, p. 119, New York and Lon- 
of Badghis is made in the work, cited don, 1911 ; and cf . especially Elworthy, 
below, by Nizami-i Aruzi, Chahdr Evil Eye, pp. 344-347, London, 1895. 
Makdla, translated by Browne, in 3 j^or text see Auii, Lubdb al- 
JRAS. 1899, pp. 655-656 (= reprint, Albdb,2. 2, ed. Browne, London, 1903 ; 
pp. 43-45). and Eth^, in Morg. Forsch. p. 40 ; cf. 

2 On the custom, still current in also tr. Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 452 ; 
Persia, of burning sipand, 'rue,' to Pickering, Nat. Bev. 15. 677; Pizzi, 
avert the evil eye, see Jackson, From Storia, 1. 128. 

Constantinople to the Home of Omar 



If lordship in a lion's jaws should hang, 
Go, run the risk, and seize it from his fang ; 
Thine shall be greatness, glory, rank, and place, 
Or else, like heroes, thine be death to face.^ 

From the period of the following dynasty, the Saffarids, 
or ' Braziers,' so called from their founder in 872 a.d., 
Yakub, the son of Laith, who was a ^coppersmith' 
{saffar), we have the names and fragmentary remains of 
a couple of poets. '^ One of these bards was ^.^^ 
Firuz al-Mashriki, or *the Easterner,' as his ai-Mashriki 

1-1 . 7 -7 • T 1 T 1 i_ J. (about 890 A.D.) 

appellative mashnkl implies, who lived about 
890 A.D. Only three of his stanzas, however, seem to 
have been preserved, even though his compatriot Aufi 
accounted his songs * sweeter than a stolen kiss ' — az 
kuhlat-i duzdldah khushtar.^ The following two couplets, 
descriptive of an arrow, contain an odd fancy: 

A bird the arrow is — < What marvel ! ' thou wilt say — 
A bird that maketh ever some living thing its prey. 
A gift the eagle gave it — from her own quills a plume. 
Wherewith it straightway bringeth her nestlings to their doom.* 

1 For text and the whole story see longed partly to the Tahirid period as 
the above-mentioned work by Nizami-i well. See Eth6, in Grundr. 2. 218 ; 
Aruzi, Chahdr Makdla, tr. Browne, Horn, Gesch. d. pers. Litt. p. 48. 

pp 43-4.5; and cf. Browne, Lit. Hist. ' See Aufi, Lubdb, 2. 2. 

1. 355, 452. But cf. Mustaufi, TaWikh-i * For the text see Aufi, 2. 2 ; Eth6, 

Guzidah, ed. Browne in Gibb Mem. 14. in Morg. Forsch. p. 41, finds metrical 

1, p. 379, who quotes the verses anony- reasons to include a nah 'not' — 

mously and applies the story to Saman, ' That it may not carry away her 

ancestor of the Samanid dynasty. young brood ' ; but the manuscript 

Rhyme, b d. reading, adopted above in the render- 

2 The name also is mentioned of ing, seems equally good ; cf. also 
Mahmud-i Varrak, the '' or Browne, 1. 453; Darmesteter, p. 9. 
'Bookseller,' who, like Hauzalah, be- 


Another stanza of Firuz Mashriki, in admiration of his 
sweetheart, is quite bizarre in its imagery. I translate 
it also because it seems to have escaped notice elsewhere. 


All, look at her beautiful teeth, and her lips with their exquisite 
line ; 
They keep me forever inflamed with the warmth of the passion 
of love ! 
Those teeth that flash bright as the Pleiads, when aloft in the zenith 
they shine ; 
Those lips that seem halo of moonlight round the orb of the full 
moon above ! ^ 

^ This is the very ecstasy of love ! ' and it was perhaps 
from those very lips that the kiss was stolen to which 
Mashriki' s verses are likened. Two other stray distichs 
of his poetry have been preserved in a chance quotation 
— but enough ! ^ 

The poetic artery that throbbed in the pulse of Eastern 
Iran must have had an answering beat as far westward 

Abu Saiik ^^ ^^^ Caspian Sea before the end of the Saf- 

ofGurgan fapi(j era, or 900 a.d., for it is felt in the 

(about the End 

of the Ninth verse of Abu Salik of Gurgan, who lived 
Century A.D.) ^ ^^^ latter part of that era, and was a 
native of the district (Gurgan) which corresponds to the 
ancient Hyrcania.^ Abu Salik, we are told, ' spread out 

* The text is found cited in Horn's Mu'jam, ed. Muhammad KazvinI, in 

edition of Asadi's Lughat-i Furs, Gibb Memorial Series 10, pp. 267-268. 
fol. 17, p. 26, Berlin, 1897 (Abhand- 3 This province is the same as Var- 

lungen d. Kgl. Gesellschaft d. Wiss. kana in the old Pers. Inscriptions, Bh. 

zu Gottingen, Neue Folge, Bd. 1 Nr. 8). 2. 92. 

2 See Shams ad-Din b. Kais, at- 


the carpet of words {hisS,t-i sukhim) and raised aloft the 
banner of eloquence.'^ Nobility of thought certainly 
characterizes one of his few rhymed stanzas that have 
come down to us. 


Shed, if thou wilt, thine own blood on the earth. 
Better than shed thine own pure honor's worth — 
Better to worship idols than a man ; 
Give ear, take heed, and practise he who can ! 2 

Another surviving stanza, which has a sportive touch, 
may be quoted as perhaps having formed part of a sonnet 
on his mistress' eyebrow ! 


With thy eyebrow thou'st stolen my heart 'way from me ; 
What ! dost judge with thy lips, and thy eyebrow the thief ! 
Wilt thou claim a reward ? — for heart-robbing, a fee ? 
A robber rewarded ! That's passing belief ! ' 

Two other chance distichs of Abu Salik have been pre- 
served, but that is all.* 

With these three or four names of the olden-time poets, 
and their few verses, we bid adieu to the first two epochs 
— Tahirid and Saffarid — of the newer Persian renaissance. 
"We may be happy at least that the voice of song had been 
awakened from slumber. 

1 Aufi, Lubdb, 2. 2-3 ; Eth6, .in word muzhah is perhaps more literally 
Morg. Forsch., pp. 41-42. 'eyelash.' 

2 For the text see references in the * See Shams ad-Din b. Kais, ai- 
preceding note. The rhyme in the Mu'jam, pp. 255, 276 (in Gibb Memo- 
original is 6 d. rial Series, vol. 10, cited above). 

'Aufi, p. 3; Eth6, p. 41. The 



(About 900-950 A. D.) 

' When the morning stars sang together.' 

— Jo6, 38. 7. 

The Samanid period, or the entire century down to 
1000 A.D., was a true age of minstrelsy, and this day- 
spring of song was marked, when the zenith 

Samanid was reached, by the fame of two poets, 
fFirsr^if f -^^^^gi ^^^ Dakiki, both of whom will be 
Tenth Century described in the next and a later chapter. 


But around these twin stars was clustered a 

group whose magnitude was of the second degree, yet 

from each of which a glimmer of light has come down 

through the ages, though the orb that gave it birth faded 

from ordinary observation more than a thousand years ago. 

Scintillations from one of these lost stellar orbs have 

been caught in rays from the poet Abu Shukurof Balkh, 

Abu shukur which might have disappeared forever if lovers 

(fl. 941 AD.) Qf Omar Khayyam were not scanning the 

horizon for quatrain-beams that may be older than the 

ruhals of the Tent-maker of Nishapiu*. Abu, or Bu 

Shukur as he is also called, appeared earlier than the bard 

Shahid, who is next mentioned, and prior to the renowned 



Rudagi, from both of whom he carried off in advance ' the 
ball of excellence ' — to use a polo phrase from one of his 
native biographers.^ 

One of Shukur's works is recorded as having been 
written in 941 a.d.,- and among the reliques from his pen 
is a very early quatrain, which has, as in the case of 
Hanzalah of Badghis, a special interest for Omarians. 
Yet there is in the four lines, written on parting from one 
whom he has loved, something of the bitter-sweet, or 
rather the venenum in cauda sting of a later-day Heine, 
at least as I read them : 


Through grievous pangs for thee I am bowed low ; 
'Neath separation's burden bent I go. 

But ah ! with hands wash'd of thy guile and wile ! 
None e'er had moods and whims like thine, I know.^ 

But on another occasion to his love — and I quote from 
an out-of-the-way Persian source of nearly a millennium 
ago — our poet Shukur says that he could never speak an 
untruth to his beloved, because that * untruth would 
fasten his neck into the yoke (ydgh)."^ There is a touch 
of personahty in it all. And who will fail to put down 
to Abu Shukur's credit as a bard, that he was the earliest 
writer to employ in his narrative poetry the mutakarih 

1 So Valih, Riydz ash-Shu'ard, as dozen Arabic words in this quatrain 
quoted by Eth6, in Morg. Forsch. — a proportion which it would be 
p. 42. interesting to examine in other qua- 

2 Eth6, in Grundr. 2. 219. train authors. 

8 For text see Aufi, Lubdb, 2. 21 ; * Asadi, Lughat-i Furs, ed. Horn, 

Eth6, in Morg. Forsch. p. 42. It is fol. 35, p. 66. 
worth noting that there are only a half 


meter, which Firdausi later rendered immortal in his epic 
verse ? ^ 

Simplicity of style, which is the mark of Shukur's 
verse, if we may judge from nearly a hundred stray lines 
that can be gathered here and there from incidental quo- 
tation for lexical purposes in a Persian dictionary by 
Firdausi's nephew, nearly a thousand years ago, was not a 
quality that made his poetry live among his compatriots.^ 
But we of to-day can at least like one of his simple jingles, 
because it reminds us of some of our childhood's verse, 
and be glad that that old-time Persian dictionary-maker 
quoted Shukur's little lilt to illustrate an unusual word 
for 'mendicant, pauper,' in the original, instead of the 
ordinary ' beggar.' The lines are not without naivete : 


A pauper there was — so Father said, 
Who sank ('tis told) to beg his bread ; 
Dry bread he begged from door to door, 
This was his trade — forever more ! ^ 

True, this is commonplace verse; but brighter shone 

the rays of another of those minor lights of the past — 

o,- u -J r Shahid of Balkh, who died some time before 

Shahid of ' 

Baikh(d. about 950 A.D., and was mourned in verse by his 
friend, the renowned poet Rudagi.* Even 

1 Cf. Horn, Asadi's LughaUi Furs, fol. 70 r, p. 117 ; cf. Horn, Gesch. d. 
p. 23 ; id. Gesch. d.pers. Litt. p. 68. pers. Litt. p. 68. Other stanzas also 

2 To the references to Abu Shukur of Shukur are quoted in Asadi, e.g. fol. 
by Asadi, add four citations by Shams 18 r, 43 r. So likewise lines by 
ibn Kais, al-Mu'jam, pp. 268, 277, 383, Shukur's contemporary, Ma'rufi, cf. 
439. Shukur's Afarln-ndmah is lost, Horn, Asadi, p. 29 (introduction). 

cf. Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 466. * See Aufi, 2. 3 ; and cf. Pickering, 

3 Asadi, Lughat-i Furs (ed. Horn), in Nat. Bev. 15. 329, 678, 682. 


though we have native authority for the statement that 
Shahid was a person ' of excellent mind, spirited in con- 
versation, noble in views, and a scholar,' ^ the tinge of 
melancholy that marks the few verses by which alone we 
can judge him, has somewhat justly entitled Shahid to be 
designated ' the pessimist of his century.' ^ Listen for 
a moment to the sombre cadence of one of his stanzas, 
made all the more impressive in its gravity by the alter- 
nation in the rhyme : 

If grief had smoke, as hath the blazing fire. 

The world would be for aye in darkness blind ; 
Travel the world from end to end entire, 

A wise man wholly happy thou'lt not find.' 

The serious earnestness of another of Shahid's stanzas 
is similar in spirit, though bizarre in expression : 


Two artisans there are, heaven's vault below, 
The one doth cut, the other spins with knack ; 

The first shapes naught but kings' high caps of show. 
While weaves the other naught save sackcloth black. 

In a quatrain, earlier than which only one or two exist, 
as intimated above, Shahid gives voice to a lament over 
the ruins of the city of Tus in Khurasan, left desolate by 
the ravages of invading hordes, too oft repeated later from 

1 So after the Safinah-i Khvashgu, imitated above ; cf . also Ethfi, in M. F. 
cited by Eth6, in M.F. p. 43. p. 44; Pizzi, Chrestomathie, p. 67; and 

2 So Darmesteter, Origines de la tr. Pizzi, Storia, 1. 128. 

poesie persane, p. 29. ■• Text, Eth6, in M. F. p. 45 ; Pizzi, 

' Aufi, Lubdb, 2. 4, from which text Chr. p. 67. 
the original rhyme a b a b has been 


over the Turkistan border. Any one who has wandered, 
as I have, among the crumbhng remains of that ancient 
heap of dust, near modern Mashad, will best appreciate 
the raven-note of these dismal four lines : ^ 

Last night by ruined Tus I chanced to go, 
An owl sat perched where once the cock did crow ; 

Quoth I, " What message from this waste bring'st thou ? " 
Quoth he, " The message is, ' Woe, woe — all's woe ! ' " * 

Nature sad or glad sympathizes with the plaint of a 
lover, and this was Shahid's case when he bemoaned his 
plight and sang : 

The cloud is weeping like a lover sad, 
The garden smileth like some maiden glad, 
The thunder moaneth, yea, like unto me, 
That make lament each dawn I'm doomed to see.' 

A store of world-wisdom — gathered, no doubt, through 
sad experience — is locked up in the following little jingle 
by Shahid : 


'Tis with learning and wealth like narcissus and rose. 
At the same time and place neither one of them grows ; 
For, where there is learning — well, wealth is not there, 
And where there is wealth — little learning's to spare.* 

1 Cf. Jackson, From Constantinople the form of a Dlvdn, cf. Eth^, in 
to the Home of Omar Khayyam, pp. Grundr. 2. 219. It is also to be ob- 
286-295. served that in the old Persian diction- 

2 Text, Eth^, p. 44 ; Pizzi, Chr. p. 57 . ary of Asadi, Lughat-i Furs (ed. 
» Text, Aufi, 2. 4 ; cf. Eth6, p. 46. Horn), Shahid is cited some thirty- 
Original rhyme is b d. two times (mostly couplets — one on 

< Aufi, 2. 4 ; cf. Eth6, p. 45. Rhyme Lost Youth, fol. 35 r), and among 

in original, b d. It may be noted that these quotations are four short stanzas 

Shahid was one of the earliest poets (fols. 8, 12, 40, 67) ; cf . also Shams ibn 

to leave a collection of his lyrics in l^ais, al-Mu'jam, p. 204. 

t - 

<- i 

The Ckumblixg Mausoleum at Tus 
(From a photograph by the author) 

[ To face page 20"] 


Different both in mood and in manner, but not lacking 
in fancy, was the baker-poet Khabbaz of Nishapur — 
for Nishapur had its baker-poet as Niirnberg 
had its shoemaker-bard Hans Sachs. Khab- (d. 953 ad.) 
baz, or Khabbazi, flourished in the middle of 
the tenth century, as his death is recorded as having 
occurred in 953 a.d.^ His name (Khabbaz) means * Baker,' 
and a well-known Persian tradition states that ' Doctor 
Khabbaz of Nishapur was skilled in baking choice and 
fine bread, and was also clever in piercing the pearls of 
words with the needle of speech.'^ Here is one of the 
strings of pearls for his loved one's hair : 


Dost see those two tresses of hair, 

AVhich the wind waveth hither and yon ? 
Thou'dst liken them unto a swain, 

Who never hath constancy won. 
Nay, like some lord chamberlain's hand, 

For his prince in full martial array, 
That waveth thee back from afar, — 

< Thou hast not any audience to-day ! ' ' 

The title Hakim, ' Doctor,' when brought into connec- 
tion with the following verse, which is probably by his 
son Abu Ali Khabbaz, appears to show that the elder 
Khabbaz combined the practice of medicine with his call- 
ing of loaf -making and his avocation as a poet ; nor did 
he lack a sense of humor, if we may judge from the 
allusion in Khabbaz Junior's lines: 

1 Cf. Eth6, in Grundr. 2. 221. ^ Aufi, 2. 27 ; Eth6, in M.F. 50 ; cf. 

* Cf. Aufi, Lubdb, 2. 27. also Pickering, in Nat. Rev. 16. 681. 



To Doctor Khabbaz once I gave this counsel pure : 
' Take heed no sick man leaves thy door without a cure ; 
Hopeful of healing, glad they to thy door repair ; 
Let no poor patient, then, depart in sad despair.' 

Said Papa, ' Know'st thou not, no fault is mine, my Son. 

Wild game whose hour is come, straight to the hunter run.' ^ 

To the city of Nishapur belonged likewise Abu '1- 
Abu'i- Muzaffar Nasr, who had the real touch 
MuzaffarWasr q£ fancy in his verse, though he is known 
only by the fragmentary stanza that is here rendered : 


One might liken her unto the moon, — if not for her tresses so 

Or like unto Venus were she, if her beauteous mole she did lack. 
Her radiant cheeks were the sun, I had ventured to say with my 

If the sun were but never obscured, and never once suffered 


To the same epoch of song belongs still another 
Samanid minstrel, Junaidi, or Abdullah Muhammad al- 
Junaidi, as his fuller name is given. Junaidi enjoyed an 
added repute among his contemporaries and 
successors as being — like Abbas of Merv and 
Shahid of Balkh — a master equally of the Arabic and 
of the Persian tongue, and as being skilled likewise in 
the art of composing in prose as well as in verse. ^ He 

1 Text from Valih, Eiydz ash- rhyme, b d. Cf. also tr. Browne, Lit. 
Shu'ard, cited by Eth6, in M. F. p. 51. Hist. 1. 467. 

Rhyme in original, bdf. 3 cf. Aufi, Lubdb, 2. 23-24 ; Eth6, 

2 Aufi, 2. 23 ; Eth^, p. 48. Original p. 49. 


certainly was an adept in turning a wine-song (perhaps 
the earliest extant in Persian), even though my rendering, 
with its attempt to imitate the Persian monorhyme of his 
stanzas, only inadequately conveys the idea : 


At dawn quaff a draft from the flagon of wine, 
By crow of the cock and the lute's plaintive whine. 
When the sun lifts his head o'er the top of the hill, 
He were best put to blush by the cup and the vine. 
From the cup to the couch at the fall of night time. 
From the couch to the cup at the dayspring's first sign. 
As milk is the food that for infants is best, 
So let old men their diet to grape-milk confine.^ 

Bukhara — that ancient city and capital of the Sam- 
anid Empire — was the home of numbers of devotees of 
song. Their names have lived, and that is a thousand 
year old tribute. Several of these names should be re- 
corded for fame ; and among them may be mentioned now, 
even if his poetic activity appears to belong 

Aghachi, or 

only to the middle or the latter part of the Aghaji (about 

Samanid period, the name of a prince of the jgnt^centu 

blood, Aghachi, or Aghaji, or Abu '1-Hasan AJi ad. and some- 
what Later) 
b. Ilyas al-Aghaji, of Bukhara — * a man of the 

sword and the pen,' he was called." Aghachi was a con- 
temporary both of Shahid and of Dakiki (the latter of 
whom sang his praises), and must, therefore, have flour- 

1 There is a pun in the Persian 2 Aufi, Lubdb al-Albab, 1. 31-32 ; 

shir, 'milk,' and shirah, 'new wine' Eth6, in M. F. pp. 62-63; id. in 
(milk of the grape). For the text, see Grundr. 2. 222. 
Aufi, Lubdb, 2. 23 ; Eth6, p. 49 ; and 
cf. tr. Pickering, in Nat. Bev. 15. 681. 


ished about the middle of the tenth century, or even 
somewhat later.^ 

In spirit Aghachi combined the soldier and the poet, 
and his fiery temper brooked no taunt that stigmatized, 
as a source of weakness, his court education, in accordance 
with the regimen of princes ; for against the attack he 
hurled back four biting lines : 

Ho, thou who takest no account of what my skill may be, 

Test ! — Thou wilt find I was not reared 'mid luxury abhorred ; 
Bring forth the steed, the noose, the bow, and bring the book to me, 
Verse, pen, and lute, — bring on the wine, chess, and backgammon 
board ! ' 

The knightly chivalry of the lover speaks in the next 
fragment from the writings of this soldier-bard: 

Should thy heart require a fortress — 

Fort my heart shall be for thee ; 
Since thy love's beyond computing, 

Countless may thy life's years be ! * 

And the fancy of the true poet is hidden in one other 
of the half-dozen stanzas by which al-Aghachi is known."* 
The soldier's imagination is not absent. 

1 As to the date of Aghaclii, Eth6, Pickering, Nat. Rev. 15, 685. I have 

in Grundr. 2. 222, evidently inclines preferred to treat Aghachi in the 

to place Aghachi (Aghaji) in the present chapter rather than in the one 

latter half of the tenth century, but after next. 

has authority for saying 'gehorte 2 Aufi, 1. 32 ; Eth^, p. 63; Pizzi, 

zu den Zeitgenossen des Shahid und Chr. p. 59. Original rhyme b d. 

Dakikl ' (in M. F. p. 62) ; so appar- s Aufi, 1. 32 ; Ethe, in M. F. p. 62. 

ently also Horn, Gesch. d. pers. Litt. * Aufi, 1. 32, has six ; Eth6 (M. 

p. 79 ; Pizzi, Storia della poesia per- F. pp. 62-63) quotes four. Asadi, 

siana, 1. 69-70, 130, Also look up Lughat-i Furs, ed, Horn, of. p. 17, 



Oh, look at the sky with its troops of flaked snow, 
How amid it a flurry of wings is widespread ! 

*Tis verily like to a troop of white doves 

Panic-stricken with fear of the falcon so dread. 

A few glints more from these minor stars might be 
recorded, it is true; but these slender rays shot down 
from the stellar spaces of the long-forgotten past gleam 
for an instant, and then are gone. Yet behind them they 
leave to us a wish, unfulfilled though it must ever remain, 
that we knew more of the galaxy of which they formed 
a part in those star-regions of song that are no longer 
within our ken. 

cites ten different single lines (un- have missed noting others, which some 

rhymed) of Aghajl. I am not sure one will doubtless add later, 
about the quatrain by Aghaji cited by i For text, cf. Aufi, 1. 32 ; Eth6, p. 

Shams ibn Kais, al-Mu'jam (in Gibb 62 ; Pizzi, Chr. p. 59; cf . tr. Pickering, 

Memorial Series, 10), T^. 2H. I may i^at. iieu. 16. 686; Pizzi, /Storia, 1. 130. 



(Middle of the Tenth Century a.d.) 

' But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, 
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill. ' 

— Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1. 1. 16&-167. 

The dawn had not yet fully broken; but though the 
Pleiades had set, two morning-stars still lingered in the 
sky as heralds of the dawn. The more brilliant of 
the twain, yet earliest to sink beneath the horizon, bore 
the name Rudagi or Rudaki.^ The other, hardly less 
luminous, but quenched before the great sun of Firdausi 
rose, was called Dakiki. Only snatches of the music of 
the spheres in which their orbits swung have come down 
to us, but the notes that reverberate are true and rich. 

To Rudagi, the older of these minstrels, as dominating 
the Samanid era, this chapter is devoted ; Dakiki, his 
later compeer, is reserved for another. 

Rudagi may justly be styled the real ' father of Persian 
song.' His birth-year appears to have been somewhere 
around 880 a.d., and his death must have occurred about 
954 A.D.2 He owed his name to his natal town Rudag, 

1 When I was in Persia for the there is manuscript authority for it) 

fourth time (1918) I heard from lit^ the reading Rudagi. 
erary men only the pronunciation 2 j^or the view as to the latter date, 

iJudail, although scholars of the West 964 (=343 a.h.) as contrasted with 

have more generally adopted (and 941 (= 330 a.h.), see Eth6, in Grundr. 



a small place beyond the river Oxus, located near either 
Bukhara or Samarkand, or possibly between the two.^ 
Tradition has it that he was so clever as a Rudagi (about 
boy that he knew the whole Kuran by heart ^80-954 ad.) 
at the age of eight. ^ A presage of his future greatness ! 
Tradition reports also that, like Homer, Rudagi was born 
blind ; but if so, that makes all the more surprising the 
sense of color which is shown in the fragments of his 
poetry that have survived.^ At all events, nature 
endow^ed him not only with the gift of poesy, but also 
with a rich voice for singing and a talent likewise for 
playing the lute (harhat).* The burst of song came early 
from his lips, and the burden of his light-hearted verse, 
with its chiming monorhyme, which is here imitated 
from the Persian original, has all the abandon of 

2. 221 ; although Browne, Lit. Hist. Lit. Hist. 1. 455-458. For some of 

1. 456, n. 2, cites authority for the date the original sources consult also 

940-941 A.D. ; compare furthermore Daulatshah (ed. Browne), pp. 31-33 ; 

C. J. Pickering, A Persian Chaucer, Auli, Lubdb, 2. 7-9. 
in National Review, 15. 329, London, 2 Aufi, cited by Eth^, in Gott. 

1890. This latter article, pp. 327-540 Nachrichten, pp. 669-670. 
(based on Eth6and Darmesteter), be- 3 On the question of Rudagi's 

came accessible to me after this chap- blindness see (with citation of native 

ter was ready for the press, but sources) Eth6, in Nachrichten, pp. 

references are added in the footnotes. 668-670; cf. Auii, Lubdb (ed. Browne) 

1 The standard monograph on 2.6; also Pickering, Nat. Rev. 15. 

Rudagi is by H. Eth6, RUdagi, der 329, 678, 682. The case probably is 

Sdmdnidendichter, in Nachrichten d. that blindness came later in life — 

Kgl. Gesellsch. d. Wiss. zu Gottingen there have been bUnd poets from 

(1873), pp. 663-742 ; see also id. in Thamyris to Milton. 
Gtundr. 2. 220-221 ; compare likewise ^ Compare on barbat, Steingass, 

the artistic literary presentation (based Persian-English Dictionary, p. 170 a, 

on Eth^'s material) by Darmesteter, and the note by Pickering, Nat. Rev. 

Origines de la poesie persane, pp. 15. 329 : ' barbat, the pip^irop of 

11-28. Compare also Pizzi, Storia Greece ; other authorities give 'ud, 

delta poesiapersiana, 1.7 l-li; Horn, "lute."' Cf. Eth6, in Nachrichten, 

Oesch. d. pets. Litt. pp. 73-76 ; Browne, p. 671. 


Byron's line, ^ I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory,' ^ 
or of Horace's Carpe Diem, as it runs cheerily along in 
lyric measure : 

Live gay with maids dark-eyed, divine ! 

'Tis a vain world, and wind is its sign. 
What Cometh, thou shouldest rejoice at, 

No thought take of past, or repine. 
I've won me a musky-tressed damsel, 

Moon-faced, and of angel-born line. 
He's happy who giveth and getteth ; 

Who doth not, — his lot is of brine. 
This sad world is wind and cloud merely, 

Let be \ — Come bring hither the wine ! ' 

Sometimes the tone is a melancholy one, a piteous 
note of unrequited love. 

When dead thou shalt behold me, 

My lips forever sealed, 
Reft of its life this body. 

Passion ne'er more revealed, 
Then by my cold bier sit thou. 

And say with a caress, 
* Alas, 'twas I who slew thee ! 

Heart-broken, I confess.' ' 

Our own Chaucer in his youth could not have turned 
the verse more gracefully — or more sadly. 

Fortune early selected Rudagi for her favorite, and 
led him to the court of the Samanid prince Nasr II 

1 Byron, Stanzas written on the ^ Text, Eth6, in Nachrichten, p. 
Boad between Florence and Pisa, 1. 16. 737 ; Pizzi, Chr. p. 62 ; also compare 

2 Text, Eth^, in Nachrichten, p. 720 ; the version by Cowell in Browne, Lit. 
Pizzi, Chr. p. 61 ; tr. id. Storia, 1. 134. Hist. 1. 458. 


(913-942), which he graced till his royal patron's death. 
During these halcyon days honors and riches were showered 
upon him in abundance ; and the retinue of ^ , ., 

^ Rudagi 3 

his attendants formed a line of two hundred, Princely 
while double that number of camels was needed 
to carry his baggage.^ 

In addition to the royal favor of Nasr, Rudagi received 
generous recognition from his poetic peers, as is proved 
by his fellow-minstrel and friend, Shahid of Balkh, who 
said, in a verse which has remained, that ' Bravo ! ' 
(ahsand) might be praise for the lines of other poets, but 
would be mere ridicule for the poems of Rudagi ; ^ and so 
run the commendations from every Persian singer after him.^ 

Rudagi's popularity, moreover, with all alike at court 
(for he was a court poet) and in camp is proved by the 
story that he was the one selected to try to win Nasr's 
thoughts back to Bukhara when that Samanid monarch 
tarried four years away from home, enchanted by the 
charm of the region around Herat. The bard's ready wit 
was quick to improvise the means. So well acquainted 
was he with his royal patron's moods that, as the Persian 
writers relate, * he knew prose would not affect him, and 
therefore had recourse to verse.' ^ At the moment when 

1 Aufi, 2. 7, and others, cf . Eth^, in Lughat-i Furs, cf . ed. Horn, pp. 18-19 
Nachrichten, p. 672. — in fact Rudagi is the most often 

2 Aufi, Lubdb (ed. Browne) 2.. 6; cited author in that work. Similarly 
and cf . Eth6, in Gott. Nach. p. 675, n. 3. in Shams ibn Kais, al-Mu'jam (in 

3 References are easily at hand to Gibb Mem. 10. 451, Index). 

the scholar (e.g. Eth6, pp. 675-677), * See Nizami-i Aruzi Samarkand], 

and as an illustration of Rudagi's C/ia/iar ilfaAtaia, ed. Mirza Muhammad 

renown might be instanced the fact (Gi66 J/emoriai, 11), p. 33; tr. Browne, 

that he is quoted no less than a hun- in JKAS. 1899, p. 759 (= reprint, p. 

dred and sixty-one times by Asadi, 63). 


Nasr had quaffed his morning cup, ' Rudagi came in and 
did obeisance, and sat down in his accustomed place ; and 
when the musicians had ceased, he took up the lute 
(chang), and, playing the "Lover's air," began this elegy,' 
opening with the tender strain, 

Buy-i juy-i Muliydn dyad hami 

The perfume sweet of Muliyan's stream comes aye to me ; 
Remembrance, too, of longed-for friends comes aye to me. 

Then, striking a lower key, he continued : 


The sandy road by Oxus' banks, that rugged way, 
SOk-soft beneath my feet to me appears to-day : 
And Jihun's waves, for very joy at their friend's face, 
Rise to our waists in blithesome mood with fond embrace. 
Be joyful, Bukhara glad ! Long live thou ! — since 

Here to thee joyous comes thy life, thy own glad Prince. 
Thy Prince, Bukhara, is the Moon, and thou, the Sky ; 
In heaven's vault the Moon, behold, is mounting high ; 
A cypress, he ! — Bukhara, thou a garth ablow, 
Anon the cypress shall within the garden grow ! * 

1 In the original Persian text of the Chahdr Makdla (p. 33) and Tadhkiratu 
'sh-Shu'ard (p. 32) referred to above (p. 33, n. 1), and oft quoted, the rhym- 
ing refrain throughout is dyad harm, ' doth ever come ' ; so the alternating 
fhjrme-lines might perhaps be more literally rendered thus : 

a. The perfumed Muliyan to me doth ever come 

b. Remembrance of my friends to me doth ever come 
d. Silk-soft beneath my feet to me doth ever come 
/. Waist-high in blithesome mood to me doth ever come 
h. In joy thy prince, thy life, to thee doth ever come 
j. Into the sky the moon, O see ! doth ever come 
I. The cypress to his garth, to thee doth ever come 

For other versions of this noted ode of. Eth6, p. 719 ; Darmesteter, p. 13 ; 
Browne, in JEAS. 1899, p. 760 (= reprint, p. 54) ; and (though available to me 
only later for this footnote reference) Pickering, in Nat. Rev. (1890), 16. 332. 

The (ikeat Minaret of Bukhara 
(From a photograph by Edward G. Pease) 

[ To face page 36] 


So deeply touched was Amir Nasr, as the story goes, 
that without waiting to put on his riding-boots he leaped 
upon the sentry-horse that stood saddled at the gate and 
never drew rein for eight miles, so that his boots had to 
be carried after him. The joyful courtiers and soldiers 
joined in presenting to the successful poet a purse ' of 
twice five thousand dinars.' ^ 

To the same Nasr the Fortunate, as his royal patron, 
are dedicated the few panegyrics that have come down to 
us from Rudagi. Graceful, but not fulsome, as are so 
many of such Persian courtly effusions, they show, in 
equal measure, skill and refined taste, together with true 
courtly affection.^ It is easy, therefore, to understand 
why Nasr should have bestowed upon his protege a gift 
of 40,000 dirhams (about $7000) for complying with his 
request for a poetical translation of the famous Indian 
book, ' The Fables of Bidpai.' This rendering by Rudagi, 
under the title Kalllah and JDimnah, was made from an 
Arabic version of the Pahlavi translation of the Sanskrit 
original which had been brought from India in the time 
of the Sasanian monarch Khusrau I (Anushirvan the 
Just), in the sixth century of our era.^ The loss of this 

1 This whole episode is given by 3 There is a large mass of material 
Nizami Aruzi of Samarkand, op. cit. available regarding the original Sans- 
pp. 31-33 ; tr. Brov?ne in JRA8. 1899, krit collection of beast-fables, Panca- 
pp. 767-761 ( = reprint, pp. 61-55)., tantra, and its ramifications through 

2 For text and a translation of these Persian and other literatures, a sub- 
kasldahs, see Eth^, in Gott. Nach- ject which belongs to the special stu- 
richten, pp. 678-696; together w^ith a dent; consult, e.g. J. Hertel, Das 
literary appreciation by Darmesteter, Pancatantra, Leipzig, 1914 ; G. N. 
pp. 16-18 ; cf. also Pickering, Nat. Rev. Keith-Falconer, Kalllah and Dimnah, 
15. 332-336 ; but Ethfi later, in GruTidr. Cambridge, 1886; cf. also Browne, 
2. 220, doubts their authenticity. Lit. Hist. 1. 110, 275, 467. 


Persian rendering is deeply to be regretted, as only about 
sixteen of its couplets have survived through chance quo- 
tations in an eleventh-century lexicographical work.^ 

Rudagi's poetic productivity was great. He is reputed 

to have composed a million and three hundred thousand 

, verses, epic rhapsodies among them.^ But of 

Literary this fabled output only a scanty remnant (not 
much more than fourscore fragments, together 
with other stray verses) has been preserved,'^ though they 
are such in merit as to entitle him to a foremost rank 
among the poets of his century, from whom he re- 
ceived just praise* His masterly touch in the lyric vein 
may be illustrated, perhaps, by his songs on wine. Out 
of a number of such fragments I select one for presenta- 
tion, the choice being guided by the fact that it is the 
one best known, and striking for its close, and also 
because it has been rendered into English by Professor 
Cowell, the teacher of ^ Omar ' Fitzgerald. 

i In the previoxisly mentioned Per- stanzas (see fols. 6 r, 9 r, 11 r, 21, 24, 

sian lexicon, Asadi's Lughat-i Furs, 27, 30, 32, 33, 35, 40, 42 r, 43 r, 50, 

ed. Horn, pp. 18-21 ; cf. also Browne, 61 r, 61, 71 — two being quatrains, 9 r. 

Lit. Hist. 1. 457, 474. 11 r). See also Horn, op. cit. pp. 18- 

2 See references by Eth6, in Gott. 19, and observe his remark on the 
Nach. p. 677 ; Browne, 1. 456-457. couplets, p. 21. To these likewise 

3 Eth6, in Gott. Nachrichten, pp. should be added a number of other 
678-742, has gathered 52 fragments fragments in stanzas now available in 
(making up 240 couplets in all), and Shams ad-Din ibn Kais, al-Mu'jam, 
to these should now be added the ed. Mirza Muhammad, Gibb Memo- 
material later available in Asadi's rial, 10 ; cf. Index, p. 451. 
Lughat^i Furs (ed. Horn), in which * For appreciations by Rudagi's con- 
old lexicon Rudagi (the most oft temporaries see references above, p. 
quoted poet) is cited 161 times. The 35, n. 3 ; also cf. Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 
majority of these quotations by Asadi 455 ; and add to them the estimate by 
are single rhymed distichs ; but among Kisa'i in Asadi, op. cit. fol. 8 r (ed. 
the number I have found 17 short Horn, p. 21). 



" Bring me yon wine which thou might'st call a melted ruby in its 

Or like a scimitar unsheathed, in the sun's noon-tide light 

held up. 
'Tis the rose-water, thou might'st say, yea, thence distilled for 

purity ; 
Its sweetness falls as sleep's own balm steals o'er the vigil- 
wearied eye. 
Thou mightest call the cup the cloud, the wine the raindrop from 

it cast, 
Or say the joy that fills the heart whose prayer long looked-for 

comes at last. 
Were there no wine all hearts would be a desert waste, forlorn 

and black, 
But were our last life-breath extinct, the sight of wine would 

bring it back. 
O if an eagle would but swoop, and bear the wine up to the sky. 
Far out of reach of all the base, who would not shout * Well 

done ! ' as I ? " » 

— Translation by Edward Byies Cowell. 

A dozen other lyric fragments might be added — some- 
times an elegy, sometimes a eulogy, sometimes a lover's 
plaint.2 No one knew better than Rudagi, for example, 
how to portray the pangs of separation from the be- 
loved, and the joys of reunion with the idol of his heart. 
Here is a rhapsody which I translate because it tells 
the tale : 

1 For this rendering by the late 2 Translations of some of these 

Professor Cowell, see Browne, Lit. lyric effusions, besides those which I 

Hist. 1. 467-458; for the Persian text have rendered in this chapter, will be 

(with translation) see Eth6, pp. 722- found in the articles, already referred 

723 ; cf . id. Die hojlsche . . . Poesie, to, by Eth6, Darmesteter, Pickering, 

pp. 14-16 ; cf. also Pickering, in Nat. and in Pizzi, Storia della poesia persi- 

Rev. 16. 335. ana, 1. 131-135. 



Of the pangs of separation I have suffered and borne more 
Than, through all the distant ages, any mortal being bore ; 
And my heart had quite forgotten all the charms of union sweet ; 
But what joy 'tis after severance, with one's idol dear, to meet ! 
So I turned me back in gladness, back unto the camp and tent, 
Light in spirits, and light-hearted, and my speech with lightness 

blent ; 
For there came enthralled to meet me — yet with bosom all unbraced-^ 
A sweet maid with a cypress figure, tresses flowing to her waist. 
* How hath fared thy heart without me ? ' 'twas with coquetry she 

' Yea, and how thy soul without me ? ' did she add, while blushing red. 
Then I spake and gave her answer, ' thou face of heavenly birth. 
My soul's ruin, mischief-maker of all beauties on this earth ! 
Snared is my world in the circle of thy locks as amber sweet, 
And 'tis caught like a ball with the mall-bat through thy curving 

ringlets neat !^ 
Deeply filled am I with anguish by those eyes which arrows dart, 
I am anguished by those tresses, which rich showers of musk 

Where were night without the moonbeam ? where were day without 

the sun? 
Where the rose that hath no water ? where the mead that rain doth 

shun ? ' 
Then my bosom grew sweet through toying with her hyacinthine 

And my lips were sugared through kisses from that coral mouth so 

Now was she the ruby-buyer, and the ruby-seller I, 
While the nectarous wine she poured me, and I drained the goblet 


1 The ringlets are compared to the richten (1873), pp. 712-713. The 
curved head of a polo-stick — a simile rhyme in the original is a b df h, etc. 
found elsewhere in Persian poetry. Cf. also tr. Pickering, pp. 836-337. 

2 For text see Eth^, in Gott. Nach- 


"With a passionate love like Rudagi's, the kiss, which 
alone can bring relief to the heart, is a divine boon that 
merits God's benison. So he whispers to his sweetheart : 


Free my soul from pain and torment 

With but kisses two or three ; 
And that gracious favor's guerdon 

Allah's benison will be ! ^ 

Vain limit ! Rudagi gives the reason in rhythm if not 
in rhyme : 

Kar-i busah chu ah khvardan shur 
Bi-khvarl besh tishnahtar gardi. 

'Tis with kisses as with drinking of water that is salt, 
The more you drink the thirstier still you grow ! 2 

A whimsical quatrain by Rudagi in a humorous vein is 
worth translating — for the Persians have a quaint vein of 
humor. Somebody had twitted him on his vanity in dyeing 
his hair as he grew old.^ He promptly responds in a rubal : 

Not for this reason, black my hair I dye. 
To look more young and vices new to try ; 

People in time of grief don raiment black — 
I black my hair in grief at old age nigh.* 

1 Text, Eth6, p. 742; cf. Darme- I render (see text, Pizzi, Chr. p. 64; 

steter, Origines, p. 20. cf. also Pickering, pp. 821-822): 

* References as in preceding note. A wonder I count it that men in old 

3 It is thought that the original re- age, 

buke was made by Rudagi's contem- To dyeing their hair should be fain; 

porary, Abu Tahir Khusravani, who, By dyeing they cannot 'scape dying 

like Kisa'i on the same subject, is at all, 

mentioned in the next chapter (p. But give themselves trouble in vain ! 

51). Khusravani's jingling four lines * Text, Eth6, in Gott. Nach. p. 739. 


Perhaps there was more in the last line of this quatrain 
than we know. The lightheartedness of youth seems 
to have gone, especially after the loss of his friend 
and admirer, the poet Shahid, whom he mourned in 
touching verse ; and Rudagi had apparently fallen on 
evil days. Nasr, his royal patron, was dead (d. 942); 
and poverty lent an added pang to the distress of ad- 
vancing years. The same cry which was uttered a 
century earlier in Anglo-Saxon by the old English poet 
Cynewulf, and has been echoed in the silence of the 
night by myriads since life began, broke forth from 
Rudagi's soul in a lamentation over the fleeting joys of 
youth and the sorrows of approaching decay. This elegy 
of Rudagi's, the opening lines of which still show a flash 
of grim humor in their realism, deserves to be rendered 
in full, even if present-day taste would excise several of 
the verses. 


Every tootli, ah me ! has crumbled, dropped and fallen in decay ! 

Tooth it was not, nay say rather, 'twas a brilliant lamp's bright ray ; 

Each was white and silvery-flashing, pearl and coral in the light, 

Glistening like the stars of morning or the raindrop sparkling bright ; 

Not a one remaineth to me, lost through weakness and decay. 

Whose the fault ? * 'Twas surely Saturn's planetary rule,' you say. 

No, the fault of Saturn 'twas not, nor the long, long lapse of days ; 

* What then ? ' I will answer truly : ' Providence which God dis- 
Ever like to this the world is, — ball of dust as in the past, 

Ball of dust for aye remaining, long as its great law doth last. 

That same thing which once was healing, may become a source of 

And the thing that now is painful, healing balm may prove again — 


Time, in fact, at the same moment bringeth age where once was 

And anon rejuvenateth what was gone in eld, forsooth. 
Many a desert waste existeth where was once a garden glad ; 
And a garden glad existeth where was once a desert sad. 

Ah, thou moon-faced, musky-tressed one, how canst thou e'er 

know or deem 
What was once thy poor slave's station, — how once held in high 

esteem ? 
On him now thy curling tresses, coquettish thou dost bestow, 
In those days thou didst not see him, when his own rich curls did flow. 
Time there was when he in gladness, happy did himself disport. 
Pleasure in excess enjoying, though his silver store ran short ; 
Always bought he in the market, countless-priced above the rest. 
Every captive Turki damsel with a round pomegranate breast. 
Ah ! how many a beauteous maiden, in whose heart love for him 

Came by night as pilgrim to him, and in secret there remained ! 
Sparkling wine and eyes that ravish, and the face of beauty deep, 
HigTi-priced though they might be elsewhere, at my door were ever 

Always happy, never knew I what might be the touch of pain, 
And my heart to gladsome music opened like a wide champaign. 
Many a heart to silk was softened by the magic of my verse. 
Yea, though it were hard as flintstone, anvil-hard, or even worse. 
Ever was my keen eye open for a maid's curled tresses long. 
Ever alert my ear to listen to the word-wise man of song.* 
House I had not, wife nor children, no, nor female family-ties, 
Free from these and unencumbered have I been in every wise. 

Rudagi's sad plight in old age. Sage, thou verUy dost see ; 
In those days thou didst not see him as this wretch of low degree. 
In those days thou didst not see him when he roved the wide world o'er. 
Songs enditing, chatting gaily, with a thousand tales and more.^ 

1 There is an allusion to the minstrel words hazdr dastdn a reference by 

or poet in mardum-i sukhun^^n, ' the Rudagi to his Kalllah and Bimnah, 

man who knows the value of words. ' which was one of the sources of the 

' Darmesteter, p. 25, sees in the famous ' Thousand and one Nights.'' 


Time there was when that his verses broadcast tlirough the whole 

world ran, 
Time there was when he all-hailed was, as the bard of Khurasan. 
Who had greatness ? Who had favor, of all people in the land ? 
I it was, had favor, greatness, from the Saman scions' hand ; 
Khurasan's own Amir, Nasr, forty thousand dirhams gave. 
And a fifth to this was added by the Prince of the Pure and Brave ; ^ 
From his nobles, widely scattered, came a sixty thousand more ; 
Those the times when mine was fortune, fortune good in plenteous 

Now the times have changed, — and I, too, changed and altered 

must succumb, 
Bring the beggar's staff here to me; time for staff and scrip has 

come ! ^ 

Thus in dark shadows and deep sorrow closed the final 
days of Rudagi's life. The strings of his lute were 
hushed, the echoes of his voice were stilled. Who would 
follow to catch up the lost strains once more and sweep 
the silenced chords again ? 

1 This line is a difficult one. Eth6 strained. I prefer to regard the allusion 

(p. 702, and cf. n. 1) renders it, ' Und as being to some one of the Abbasid 

der Frommenseelenfursten Vierzahl CaUphs of Rudagi's time. So, in the 

zahlte einen mehr ' ; similarly also main, Pizzi, Storia, 1. 134. 
Pickering, p. 338, and cf. n. 6. This ^ For text, Eth6, pp. 696-699; 

rendering implies that by his generosity Pizzi, Chr., pp. 59-61; cf. tr. Pizzi, 

Nasr became 'a fifth CaUph,' i.e. on Storia, 1. 133-134; Pickering, pp. 

an equality with the first four Caliphs 337-338. Original monorhyme a b d, 

of Islam. But the interpretation seems etc. (Pers. -an 6wd throughout). 





(The Latter Half of the Tenth Century a.d.) 

' Hushed is the harp — the minstrel gone. ' 

— Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, 5. 3L 13. 

RuDAGi was in his grave ; he had joined the choir 
of singers now silent in the tomb. But the voice of 
minstrelsy never dies. The far-famed dynasty of the 
Samanids, in their capital at Bukhara, continued to foster 
the art of song down to the very close of their rule at 
the end of the tenth century, and handed it on as a 
treasured heritage to their successors at the Ghaznavid 
Court in the eleventh century of our era. Thus to the 
patron-favor of the last Samanid princes and to the new 
hopes kindled by the rising sun of Mahmud of Ghaznah's 
power, most of the minstrels of those days owed inspira- 
tion for their song. 

The verses of the bards whose poetry lent tints to the 
rainbow-arch that spanned this later Samanid period, 
varied in hue and shade ; but the prismatic colors can 
all be made out undimmed down to the bright era when 
Mahmud of Ghaznah (a city still existing in Afghanistan) 
mounted the throne. This famous conqueror's seat was 



near that bag of gold which is fabled to be found at the 

rainbow's base ; and, being somewhat of a poet himself, 

he joined in doling out the aureate metal to encourage 

minstrelsy, especially to those bards who chanted his 

praises in glowing verse. 

Among those whose poetry spanned this period was 

Abu Ishak (or Abu'l-Hasan) of Merv, better known as 

Kisa'i, ' the Man of the Cloak,' from his 
Kisai, ' _ ' 

Latter Part of donning in later life the dervish garb of the 
Sufi. Kisa'i had in his voice tones both 
grave and gay, which served to link the strains of the 
passing age with the newer music of the coming era.^ 
His death is generally supposed to have occurred about 
the year 1002 or 1003 a.d., but there are grounds now 
for believing that he outlived considerably the elegiac 
plaint to which he gave utterance in a poem, written 
about this time, on reaching the half century in life's run, 
as referred to below. ^ 

Whatever may have been the date of Kisa'i' s death, 
flowers should have been planted on his grave, because, 
like Keats, he had for flowers the true love of a poet. A 
stanza that survives from his pen would suffice to prove 
this. They are lines on the blue lotus or water-lily of the 
Nile. Who can say whether Kisa'i's wanderings may not 
have led him in fact as well as in fancy to the borders of 

1 A number of the poetic frag- Asadi (ed. Horn, cf. p. 27) including 

ments of Kisa'i have been preserved a couplet, fol. 36 r, and cf . 60, 60 r ; see 

by Aufi, Lubdb (ed. Browne), 2. 33- likewise Shams ibn Kais, al-Mu'jam 

39 : over sixty single verses of Kisa'i, (Gibb Mem. 10), p. 272. 
moreover, are separately quoted by 2 gee p. 49 below ; and on the 

A'/.S.l*; AXD ins LOVE OF FLOWERS 47 

Egypt's stream ? I render the lines, at all events, as an 
expression of his poetic mood : 

The azure water-lily see, amidst the waters blue, 
Now like a burnished gleaming sword, now tinged with sapphire 

hue ; 
Color like heaven, and like the heaven, as radiantly bright, 
But cup all yellow, as is the moon a fortnight old in light ; 
Yet like a sallow pious monk during a full year's fast 
Wearing from head to foot blue robes, with merit pure amassed.^ 

Nor again could any minstrel sing the beauty of the 
rose in verses more quaint than those w^hich I next trans- 
late, for they seem to rival many a later longer rhapsody 
that came from the bards of Shiraz chanting the charms 
of that queen of flowers when every petal was abloom. 

The rose — a rich gift, angel-brought from Paradise ! 

In midst of rose-delights, man's soul more noble grows. 
Ah, rose-seller ! How canst the rose for silver sell, 

Or what for silver buy more precious than the rose ? 2 

question of the date of Kisa'i's death, of Bukhara, in National Review, 15. 

consult Eth6, Neupersische Litteratur, 818, London, 1890. Throughout the 

in Geiger and Kuhn, Grundrlss, 2. 281 ; present chapter I have enjoyed the ad- 

and see Browne, Lit. Hist. 2. 161. vantage of consulting Dr. Pickering's 

1 Text, Aufi, 2. 35 ; Eth6, Die essay, which, though published long 

Lieder des Kisai, in Sitzb. d. bayer. ago, and based on Eth6 and Dar- 

Akad. Wiss. zu Munchen, 1874, p. 144. mesteter, was not accessible to me 

The rhyme in the original Persian is before. 

b d f; and the image in the last two * For the Persian text see Aufi (ed. 

lines might be more literally rendered : Browne), 2. 35-36 ; also Eth^, Sitzb. 

' As the wayfaring monk, whose two d. bayer. Akad. 1874, p. 145, and 

cheeks are sallow [through fa.sting] a Pizzi, Chr. p. 63. Cf. also Browne, 

year and a month, Has matle his upper Lit. Uist. 2. 164 ; Pickering, p. 818 ; 

and lower garment of blue stuff.' Darmesteter, p. 46 ; Horn, Gesch. d. 

For another translation into English pers. Litteratur, p. 77, Leipzig, 1901. 
consult Pickering, The Last Singers 


To every reader of that stanza by Kisa'i there will in- 
voluntarily recur a later reminiscence in Omar Khayyam's 
lines, when, in quite a different tone, Omar expresses 
marvel regarding the wine-sellers of Nishapur : 

I wonder only what the vintners buy 
One half so precious as the stuff they sell.' 

It is not surprising, therefore, that so refined a literary 
critic of Persian poetry as the French scholar Darmesteter 
should add : *If the rose had had to choose between these 
four pretty verses of Kisa'i and the interminable dithy- 
rambs of Hafiz, I believe that she would have said with- 
out hesitation to Hafiz : " The rose loves better a single 
note of the nightingale than all the gardener's songs.'" ^ 

Light-hearted in its spirit is the following musical mes- 
sage which Kisa'i caught from the carol of a bird. 

Yon caroling little bird a singer is, 

Giving a message like a lover to his love ; 
What sings he ? Sings, * Beloved, the night hath flown, 

Take thou thy sweetheart's hand and in the garden rove.' ' 

In still another vein — that of the panegyric — is a 
brief eulogy lauding the new monarch Mahmud of Ghaz- 
nah, sovereign lord of Afghanistan, whose succession to 
the throne marked the year 998 a.d., and the sweep of 
whose conquering sword soon brought under his sway 
a large part of Persia and much of Northwestern India. 
Sad though Kisa'i may have been at the setting sun of 

1 So likewise, Browne, 2. 164. Sitzb. 1874, p. 148 ; Pizzi, Chr. p. 64 ; 

2 Darmesteter, Les Origines, p. 46. and cf. Pickering, p. 820. 

3 For the text see Aufi, 2. 36 ; Eth6, 


the Samanid rule, he may nevertheless have felt glad, like 
other poets of the hour, at the dawn of the rising Ghaznah 
day. Doubtless for that reason he hailed the upshoot of 
its beams in these somewhat extravagant lines, praising 
the newly enthroned monarch (as translated by Pickering) : 


'* Shah, we well may call thy hand a jewel mine, 
For thence thou scatterest gems in never-ceasing shower ; 
Though God hath made thy soul of bounty and noblesse, 
How, when that soul is spent, to breathe hast yet the power ? " 

— Translation by C. J. Pickering.'^ 

But fulsome praise and bombast were the fashion of such 
an hour ! 

On reaching his fiftieth year, all that may have been 
blithe and debonair in Kisa'i's verse gave place to a 
sombre note. In a long kasldahA^xnQ.xii he tells mourn- 
fully, like bards before and after him, of the lost joys of 
youth, and recalls in sadness the fifty years over which he 
looked backward only with regret to the day when first 
he saw the light, that date being equivalent to Wednesday, 
March 16, 953 a.d.- These despondent verses were com- 
posed, according to Aufi, the earliest biographer of the 
Persian poets, ^ at the end of his life, the time of farewell, 
and the hour of departure.' ^ If, however, as more mod- 
ern scholars have reason to believe, he lived long past the 

1 See Pickering, in National Review, 135-136 ; and for a translation see 
15. 818; and for the original text, Browne, 2. 163-164 ; Pickering, p. 819; 
Aufi, 2. 34 ; Eth6, in Sitzb. d. bayer. Pizzi, Storia, 1. 135. 

Akad. 1874, p. 142. 3 Aufi, Lubdb, ed. Browne, 2. 38 ; 

2 For the original text of this lament and cf. Browne, Lit. Hist. 2. 161 (but 
see Aufi, 2. 38-39 ; and also Pizzi, see p. 163) ; Pickering, p. 819. 

Chr. pp. 62-63 ; Eth6, Sitzb. 1874, pp. 


age of fifty, it may have been at this moment, with 
death's grim visage in his view, that he donned the 
dervish robe with which his name Kisal has ever 
been associated, and, like a Hindu Yogi, gave himself 
up to the ascetic life, calmly awaiting release through 

There is so much that is human in such personal ex- 
pressions that our hearts cannot but sympathize with a 
melancholy touch in some of the fragmentary 


verses of another Samanid poet. Khusravani, 
Hhe Royal,' was his pseudonym — perhaps a laureate 
title — his full name being Abu Tahir bin Muhammad. 
To this was attached the cognomen at-tahih, ' physician,' 
or, according to another reading, at-tayyib, ' the sweet.' 
If we had more than the four or five poetic specimens 
that have come down to us, we might find a brighter 
tinge, as there are reasons for believing that his poems 
possessed it.^ But here is one in the sombre tone among 
those that have been preserved. Fallen into dire illness, 
it seems, Khusravani vents his spleen against four sorts 
of men who bring him not an atom of comfort, namely, 
physicians, priests, astrologers, and charm-mongers. 

For me four sorts of men as types of weakness stand, 
Since not a whit of help comes from the four : 

1 This latter is the view of Browne, some twenty-five single-line quotations 
2. 163, follovdng the deductions of from Khusravani in Asadi, Lughat-i 
Ethg, in Sitzb. 1874, pp. 133-153. -Furs (ed. Horn, cf. p. 23), but the 

2 For the text and a German trans- only rhyming lines I note are f ol. 17 r, 
lation of these fragments see Eth6, in 21 r. 

Sitzb. 1873, pp. 654-668. There are 


The leech, the priest, star-wizard, and the sorcerer. 
With drug, prayer, horoscope, and with spell-lore.' 

In another four lines Khusravani bemoans, like Rudagi 

and Kisa'i, the coming of gray hair, and inveighs against 

dyeing the whitening locks, because of its futility in 

avoiding the advance of age.- That particular stanza has 

been translated above (p. 41, n. 3), but there is a special 

reason for quoting here two other lines of Khusravani on 

vanished youth, because they are immortalized in an elegiac 

plaint by Firdausi, who, when looking back over what 

seemed to be lost work of more than sixty years upon the 

Shah-namah, and disappointed in his hopes, cried out in 

anguish of heart that Khusravani had once truly said, 

My youth I recall from the days of my childhood ; 
Alas for my youth ! Ah, alas, for my youth ! 

or as the original runs : 

Juvani man az kudaki yad ddram ; 
Darlghd juvani ! Dartgha juvani ! ' 

There is much of the same minor chord in the sad 
verses of another minstrel, Abu Nasrof Gilan, a native 
of that province southwest of the Caspian AbuNasr 
Sea. The lament of this seemingly lost soul °* ^^^*° 
is once more ' Alas ! ' The lines, which I here versify, tell 
only of the past joys of youth that are vainly recalled, 
never to return. 

1 For text see Aufi, 2. 20 ; Pizzi, ' The verses of Firdavisi's plaint, 
Chr. p. 64 ; Eth6, Sitzb. 1873, p. 666 ; which cite Khusravani's verse, are 
and cf. tr. Darmesteter, p. 34; Pick- quoted by Aufi, Lubdb, 2. 33; of. 
ering, p. 821. Eth6, Sitzb. 1872, p. 299 ; also Pizzi, 

2 For text, Eth6, Sitzb. 1873, p. 6.58 ; Chr. pp. 64, 65 ; and Browne, 2. 147. 
Pizzi, p. 64 ; tr. Pickering, p. 821 ; and 

see above, p. 41, n. 3. 



Like a cloud in spring or wind in autumn blown, 
My youthful days from out my hand have flown. 
Here have I sat, how oft, in happy days, 
Body relaxed, heart glad, cheek ruddy grown, 
Ear never free from minstrels' roundelays, 
Nor hand without the Magian wine-cup known.i 
Thus to youth's memories back my heart now strays, 
' Alas my youth ! my youth alas ! ' I moan.^ 

Some fragments of other minstrels of the Samanid 
period and the Bukharan court have been preserved, but 
they are likewise only disjecta membra, and there is space 
here merely to say something about two of their number, 
although simply snatches of their verses have come down 
to us.^ The one of these is Umarah, the other is Muntasir. 

U mar ah of Merv flourished in the latter part of the 
tenth century and in the time of Mahmud of Ghaznah, 

Umarah of whom he eulogizes.^ He is reported to have 

^^^ been an astronomer of high repute (therefore 

a forerunner of Omar Khayyam), but it is not through 

science that his name is known ; it is through the frag- 

1 The Magians were tolerant in re- yad, Abu'1-Fath, are found in Aufi 
gard to the temperate use of wine, and cited by Eth6, Browne, and Pick- 
which was forbidden by Muhammadan ering, besides chance citations from 
law. Cf. below, p. 62, n. 1. others by Asadi, etc. A new mono- 

2 For text see Eth6, in Sitzb. 1873, graph on this entire subject would be 
p. 658, and cf. id. in Grundr. d. iran. worth while. 

Philol. 2. 223 note ; cf. also tr. Picker- * Cf. Aufi, 2. 24 ; Ethfi, in Morg. 

ing, p. 822 ; Pizzi, Storia, p. 130. Forsch. p. 64 ; Pickering, pp. 685, 686. 

The monorhyroe in the original Persian I am not sure on what authority Horn 

is a 6 dfh. (Asadi, Lughat, p. 24) gives the year 

3 Fragments of some of the poets 'a.h. 360' (=970-971 a.d.) as the 
alluded to, hke Faralavi, Abu' 1- Abbas, date of Umarah's death; the state- 
Ma'navi of Bukhara, Abu'l-Masal, Zar- ment of Aufi, 2. 24, implies that he 
ra'ah of Gurgan, Raunaki, Muvay- lived till Ghaznavid times. 


ments of his verses, some of which have a madrigal turn 
and a vein of real imagination. A number of these poetic 
snatches of song have been preserved from oblivion through 
having been quoted, seven centuries ago, by Aufi, in the 
earliest extant biography of Persian poets. ^ It is from 
that source that some of the specimens are here translated. 
This, for instance, to his sweetheart might serve as a proto- 
type for a modern love-missive sent on St. Valentine's Day ! 

I should like to be one of my words, 

Slyly hidden among them in bliss, 
So when thou would'st sing it I might 

Imprint on thy sweet lip a kiss.' 

The story goes that in after days the renowned mystic 
poet Abu Sa'id, who is mentioned below, once heard these 
lines, and when he learned that they were by Umarah, 
he said to a group of his disciples, * Arise, let us make a 
visitation to his grave.' ^ 

Here is a quatrain which shows that Umarah had no 
scruples about indulging in the juice of the grape. 

See in my silvern idol's hand the wine, 
Thou'dst say the sun and moon together shine ; 
That cup on which the wine its shadow casts 
Is a white rose-leaf joined with a tulip line.'' 

Again the wine-cup gives rise to a pretty conceit : 

» See Aufi, Lubdh al-Albdb, ed. 2 cf. Eth6, p. 64 ; Darmesteter, p. 

Browne, 2. 24-26; Eth6, in Morg. 57 ; Pickering, p. 686 ; Pizzi, Storia, 

Forsch. pp. 63-68. In Asadi'sLu(7/iat 1. 130 ; id. Chr. p. 59. 
(cf . ed. Horn, p. 24) there are refer- 3 For references see note 2. 

ences to some forty single-line quota- * For text see Aufi, 2. 25 ; Eth6, p. 

tions from Umarah, but no stanzas. 66 ; Pizzi, Chr. p. 59. 



Hast ever seen — marvelous — water and fire combine ? 
Just cast thine eye upon this cup and then upon the wine, 
Cup crystal clear — all red the wine, within this goblet single; 
Acknowledge now, thou hast beheld water and fire commingle.^ 

Graver in tone is this stanza, and fitting in its applica- 
tion to the old adage that pride goes before destruction in 
this fickle world : 

Be thou not proud e'en though the world hath chanced to make thee 

great ; 
Many the great ones whom the world brings swift to low estate. 
This world's a snake, — a charmer he, who seeks in his power to bring ; 
The charmer ofttimes from the snake receives a mortal sting.2 

The line of the Samanids died with a song upon a 
prince's lips. The last heir to the now decadent throne 
Muntasir, of Bukhara, Abu Ibrahim Ismail, who is better 
d. 1005 AD. i^nown as Muntasir, strove in vain to hold 
on his head the crown of the effete dynasty which was 
falling from his grasp. ^ It seems odd to think that this 
youthful warrior, ^ most of whose life was spent in flight 
and fight ' (dar gurlkhtan u amkhtan), should have been 
a poet besides.^ Day and night he was on horseback, and 

1 In the original Persian of this also Pickering, p. 823, both give the 
stanza only the second and fourth endof the year 1004 a. d.; the difference 
verses rhyme (6d), cf. Aufi, 2. 25; depends simply upon the question in 
Eth^, p. 66. which part of the Muhammadan month 

2 Aufi, 2. 25 ; and cf. Eth6, p. 65 ; Rabi I, 395 a.h., the event occurred 
Browne, 1. 467. (cf. Mustaufi, TaWikh-i Guzidah, tr. 

3 See Eth§, in Grundr. 2. 222 ; id. Browne, in Gibb Mem. 14. 2, p. 78). 
Die hofische . . . Poesie, p. 24, in * So Aufi 1. 293 (ed. Browne), and 
both of which places the date of Mun- cf. Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 468 ; Picker- 
tasir's death is given as 1005 a.d., ing, p. 823. 

while Horn, in Grundr. 2. 662, and 


must have formed a picturesque figure clad in a cloak of 
coarse white cloth, which seems to have served alike as a 
protecting mail aud an inspiration to the devoted fol- 
lowers who attended hun in the guerilla warfare which 
he maintained against inroading Tatar bands from be- 
yond the Oxus as well as against the rising Ghaznavid 
power. On one occasion, relates Aufi, the early thir- 
teenth century biographer of Persian poets, a group of his 
companions, faithful amid the vicissitudes of fortune and 
misfortune, asked him : ' King, why dost thou not 
deck thyseK out in fine robes and beguile thyself with 
instruments of music, which are among the outward signs 
of royalty ? ' ^ The regal scion of the Samanid House 
may, at this moment, have reined in his steed and grasped 
a pen from the Jcalamdan-hox of one of his scribes, but at 
any rate there came from his lips a stern rebuke in verse : 


They say to me, * Wliy not adopt a face of merry cheer, 
A house adorned with carpets rare, with many hues bedecked ? ' 
Can I, 'midst warriors' shouts and cries, the voice of minstrels 

Can I, 'midst charging steeds in fight, the rose-bower sweet elect ? 
What place can be for the gush of wine and Saki's luscious lips, 
When blood must gush in streams by which the corselet mail is 

flecked ? 
My steed and arms the banquet-hall and rose-garth far eclipse ; 
For lance and bow, the tulip fair and lily I reject !* 

1 Cf. Browne, 1. 468 ; Pickering, p. p. 64 ; cf. also tr, Eth6, Die hofische 
823. . . . Poesie, p. 24 ; Darmesteter, pp. 52- 

2 I have followed the rhyme of the 53 ; Pickering, p. 823 ; Browne, 1. 469 ; 
original, 6 d//i. For the text see Eth6, Pizzi, Storia, 1. 136. 

Sitzb. 1874, pp. 150-151; Pizzi, Chr. 


The end of Muntasir's romantic career was tragic. He 
was treacherously murdered, in 1005, by an outlaw band 
with whom he had taken refuge in flight from the Tatar 
lord Ilak Khan, but he had lived true to the heroic and 
poetic traditions of the House of Saman.^ 

The glory of the Samanid sun which bad shone so 
brilliantly during the tenth century, especially at the 
capital city of Bukhara, did not set without having given 
inspiration to other singers, some of whose voices still 
continued to be heard in the early part of the Ghaznavid 
period. The names, in fact, of several of the minstrels 
mentioned in this chapter belong in part to that later era 
as well.^ Then, too, while it is true that the literary 
supremacy of the Samanids, which lasted down to about 
1000 A.D., was paramount in Northeastern Persia and in 
Transoxiana, poetry was not confined to these realms 
alone. The poetic art was cultivated likewise at the 
Dailamite court of the House of Buwaih, which, during 
a large part of the century, dominated the southern and 
A Buwaihid southwestern provinces, with power reaching 
Poet eyen as far as Baghdad.^ A panegyric, for 
example, by a Buwaihid poet, Mantiki of Rai, eulogiz- 
ing his patron Sahib Ismail (936-995 a.d.), who was 
minister under two successive Buwaihid rulers and him- 
self the author of an Arabic dictionary, has been pre- 
served. It is fantastic enough in its exaggerated hyper- 

1 On the date ' 1005,' see p. 54, though the latter haa been treated in 

n. 3. chapter 3. 

» So, for example, Kisa'i and ' Cf. Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 360, 

Umarah, and possibly Aghachi, al- 364, 365, 367, 374 ; 2. 93. 


bole, but is not without imagination, as shown by Professor 
E. G. Browne's rendering : 


" Methinks the Moon of Heav'n is stricken sore, 
And nightly grieveth as it wasteth more. 
What late appeared a great, round, silver shield, 
Now like a mall-bat * enters heaven's field. 
The Sahib's horse, you 'd think, had galloped by. 
And cast one golden horse-shoe in the sky." 

— Translation by Edward G. Browne.'^ 

Not only the Buwaihids but also the enlightened 
House of the Ziyarids in the Caspian province of Tabar- 
istan (corresponding to the modern Gilan and xhe ziyands 
Mazandaran, south of the Caspian Sea) en- as Patrons 
couraged literary and learned men. One of these rulers 
was the Ziyarid prince, Kabus, who, besides being a gen- 
erous patron of letters, composed some poems himself.^ 
But among his titles to renown as a patron is the pro- 
tection which he gave to the famous physician, phi- 
losopher, and poet, Ibn Sina, or Avicenna, as he is 
known so well to Europe and the West, who was bom 
near Bukhara in 980 a.d. Avicenna's fame, even while 
he was a young man, led Mahmud to seek to bring him 
to his capital at Ghaznah as one of the great lights of 
the time, but he fled from the monarch's bidding and 
at last found refuge at the comt of Kabus, where he 
was long hospitably entertained, and he later died 
(1037 A.D.) at Hamadan, in which city his tomb may still 

1 A resemblance is seen between 2 Browne, 1. 463 ; and cf. id. 1. 

the crescent of the moon and the 374, 453. 
curved head of a polo-stick. » Cf. Browne, 1. 469-471. 


be visited.^ A consideration of the poems left by this 
far-famed scholar, however, as well as of the quatrain- 
verses of his contemporary and friend Abu Sa'id, the 
noted mystic poet (967-1049), is reserved for another 
volume according to the plan adopted in this series. ^ 

Yet a special chapter, the following, belongs to one 
other poet, whose name adds lustre to the latter half of 
the Samanid period; it is the renowned Dakiki,the fore- 
runner of Firdausi in the realm of Epic Poetry. Dakiki 
has left more than snatches of song, and it is to this 
worthy pioneer of Firdausi that we shall next turn. 

1 See Jackson, Persia Past and Present, pp. 166-167. 
* See Preface, p. vii. 


(In the Latter Half of the Tenth Century a.d.) 

' The herald that dropped dead in announcing the victory, in whose fruits 
he was not to share/ 

— LoMELL, Lecture on Marlowe, in Old English Dramatists, p. 64. 

A YOUTH, generally known as Dakiki, whose pulses, 
like Marlowe's, were aflame, and whose raptures were 
all fire, received the coveted gift from the Dakiki 
Muses. The lover's lute was his ; wine, ^^^ ^°** 
woman, and song were his favorite themes. Yet Da- 
kiki' s renown rests rather on the fact that the few 
bugle notes which he had just begun to sound in epic 
poetry made him the herald of Firdausi. Almost at 
the very moment when he had given the call, an assas- 
sin's dagger cut short his life at an early age, in the 
latter quarter of the tenth century of oiu* era. 

Dakiki's home is commonly thought to have been 
Tus, the native place of his great successor Firdausi, 
though some sources allow Bukhara and Samarkand 
hkewise to share in the claim of having nurtured his 
genius.^ In any event he was, like the other early poets, 
a child of Eastern Iran ; and this is borne out by the 
fact that some of the fragments of his verse are stanzas 

* Noldeke, Das iranische Nationalepos, in Grundriss der iranischen Phir 
lologie, 2. 147-160. 



in praise of two of the last Samanid rulers, Mansur I 
(961-976 A.D.) and his son Nuh II (976-997).i 

This latter statement seems to be correct from the 
fact that Mustaufi (1330 a.d.) expressly says that Dakiki 
was * the contemporary of Amir Nuh (II) the Samanid ' 
(976-997), and it is in accordance with the accepted 
tradition that Nuh II assigned to him the task of 
writing the national legend of Iran in verse. ^ In view 
of this it may be inferred that Dakiki lived beyond the 
year 975 a.d., which has been assigned for his death, 
although he may have met his end early in Nuh's reign.^ 

With regard to his poetical name, all of Dakiki's 
verses, panegyric and lyric, are so well turned that he 
deservedly merits the title Dakiki, or 'the Subtle,' by 
which literary designation he is commonly known. 
The full form of his real name, however, was Abu 
Mansur Muhammad bin Ahmad, which preceded it. 

From the last stanza of one of Dakiki's impassioned 
odes, in which, after Persian fashion, he inserts his literary 
title, we may gain some insight into the delights that most 
charmed his heart. After chanting the beauties of spring, 
he concludes this lyrical effusion with these four lines : 


Of all things good and evil in the world, 
Dakiki's choice is given to these four : — 

1 Cf. Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. 461 ; and Khvashgu's Safinah, referred to 

Noldeke, in Grundr. 2. 147. by Eth6 in Morg. Forsch. p. 57. Cf. 

* See Mustaufi, Ta'fikh-i Guzldah, also Pickering, in Nat. Eev. 15. 683. 
tr. Browne, in JRAS. 1900, p. 750 ^ There seems to be a slight incon- 

( = reprint, p. 30) ; id. ed. in Gibb sistency in the statements of Browne, 

Me7n. 14. 1, p. 818; tr. 14. 2, p. 224 ; 1. 372 ; 2. 116 ; and 1. 123, 460-461. 


The ruby lip, the lute's sad melody, 
The blood-red wine, and Zoroaster's lore.* 

Even if the allusion to the religion of Zoroaster need 
not be taken too seriously, although there are reasons for 
taking it somewhat seriously, we have sufficient proof 
of Dakiki's fondness for music in the melody of his verse ; 
and no better evidence of his devotion to ruby lips need 
be given than to cite the following lines in praise of one 
of his loves : 


Would in this world there were no night, 
Then from her lips there were no flight ! 
No scorpion's sting were in my heart, 
If that her tresses made no smart.^ 

Did 'neath her lip no star-dent dimple play. 
The stars were not my comrades till the day.' 
Were she not moulded from all good above, 
My soul would not be motdded of her love ; 
And must I ever live sans my sweetheart, 
Then God, I pray, let life from me depart ! * 

With a spirit like Dakiki's that courted maidens and 
minstrelsy, the joyous hour for wine, as the third of 
his delights, especially on a moonlight evening, could 

1 For a full text of this ode see the chin,' and secondly in the image 
Eth6, in Morg. Forsch. pp. 58-59; of ' counting the stars, ' a rhetorical 
Pizzi, Chr. p. 68. expression for sleeplessness. 

2 In Persian poetry the dark curled * The rhyme in the original is a b 
ends of the beloved's locks are often dfhj; I have varied my meter from 
likened, because of their shape, to the choice. For the text see Aufi, 2. 12; 
sting of a scorpion. Eth6 in Morg. Forsch. p. 60 ; Pizzi, 

3 There is a subtle turn in the Chr. p. 58 ; cf. also tr. Browne, 1. 
repetition here of the Persian word 461-462 ; Pickering, p. 684 ; Pizzi, 
kaukab, ' star,' which is used first in Storia, 1. 129. 

a metaphorical sense as ' dimple in 


not pass by unheeded. His fondness for the juice of the 
grape, no doubt, made him more of a Zoroastrian than his 
heart, for that ancient faith allowed a temperate use of 
wine, which the stern mandates of the Kuran forbade.^ 
Dakiki in any event seems to have freed his conscience 
from all qualms in such matters, if we may judge by one 
of his lyrics on wine, to which Ben Jonson would have 
nodded assent. Thus to his cup-bearer he gayly sings : 


Ah, bring me the wine cup, fair Idol, 

For bright is the world, full of sheen. 
From up where the Moon now is shining, 

To yonder where Pisces is seen. 
When out from thy bower thou comest. 

Forth into this desert so drear. 
Wherever thy glance thou bestowest 

Doth soft as Byzance silk appear. 
Come, quaff we the wine cup together, 

And let us be merry and gay. 
For now is the time for wine-bibbing. 

The time of the glad holiday.^ 

Some sixteen or eighteen fragments of Dakiki's lyric 
poems have been preserved, numbering not much over a 
hundred lines in all ; but these fragments show delicacy 
of feeling and genuine imagination.^ Yet there is one 

1 See above, pp. 29, 34, 39, 52 n. 1 ; 460-461, are, 10 vrith 27 couplets ; 2.7 
and consult Jivanji .Jamshedji Modi, is 1 with 2 couplets ; Eth6 (addi- 
Wine amongst the Ancient Persians, tional) , 3 with 13 couplets ; and Shams 
pp. 1-16, Bombay, 1888 (Gazette Steam ad-Din b. Kais, al-Mu'jain, p. 255 
Press) . gives 2 fragments with 5 couplets ; 

2 Text, Etli^, in Morg. Forsch. cf. also id. p. 444. Add also two 
p. 61. fragmentary stanzas in Asadi, Lughat- 

» The fragments in Aufi, Luhdb, i Furs, fols. 59 r, 60, among some 
as noted by Browne, Lit. Hist. 1. sixty single-line citations. 


stanza, a quatraiu iii form, which, if really Dakiki's, is 
almost Marlowesque in its attitude towards resignation, 
and is well-nigh blasphemous, if alluding to God.' Dar- 
mesteter was somewhat fanciful in suggesting that the 
lines were gasped out by Dakiki amid his sufferings on 
that night when the assassin's fatal steel pierced his side."^ 
But the quatrain in any case is w^orth quoting. 


* Patience,' they say, * that He His patience show ! ' 
Show, yes — but in another life, I trow. 

This whole life I with patience have endured ; 
It needs a next to show His patience, though.' 

Dakiki's right to fame, however, as has already been 
intimated, rests upon the basis of his epic genius, the 
promise of which he showed in a remarkable degree. 
All too scanty as was the opportunity that was allowed 
him in the realm of heroic poetry, his name stands as a 
pioneer in this branch of composition. Persia was wait- 
ing for an epic poet, and to Dakiki, beyond any predeces- 
sor, belonged the all-absorbing idea of narrating in lofty 
verse the historic glories of ancient Iran. 

He had taken up the theme with a verve, and had 
completed a thousand couplets — an episode relating to 
King Gushtasp, the patron of Zoroaster, and his holy war 

^ There is some uncertainty about 2 Darmesteter, Origines de la poesie 

the whole quatrain. It is ascribed to jiersane, p. 43. 

Dakiki only in Lutf ^Vlibeg Adhur's 3 Text, Eth6, p. 61 ; Pizzi, Chr. 
Atash-kadah (1760-79 a.i>.), cf. Eth6 p. 58 ; tr. id. Storia della poesia per- 
in Morg. Forsch. p. 61, and hLs note ; siana, 1.130 (after Eth6) ; and Picker- 
yet see Pizzi, Chr. p. 58 (text), and ing, Nat. Eev. 15. 685. 
tr. Storia, 1. 130 ; and cf. next note. 


against Arjasp, the ruler of Turan — when the poniard 
in the hand of a Turkish minion (for whom it is thought 
he entertained an unlawful affection) brought a tragic 
end to his poetic work. The accounts of the fatal inci- 
dent have sometimes intimated that the assassin's dirk 
was drawn against the bard because of a general hatred 
on account of his leanings toward the old Zoroastrian 

Dakiki's thousand couplets, however, have been ren- 
dered immortal, since Firdausi incorporated them bodily 
into his own great epic poem after having beheld, as he 
tells us, the dead poet in a dream. As these verses in 
the Shah-namah form the particular section that relates 
to Zoroaster and the development of the ancient religion 
of the Fire-worshipers — a delicate subject to handle in 
the midst of Muhammadan fanatics — there may have 
been as much prudence as loyalty on Firdausi's part in 
constructing this chapter in his epic out of the verses left 
by his ill-starred predecessor, instead of committing him- 
self on the theme. In support, moreover, of Firdausi's 
claim in the assignment, it is agreed by scholars best 
competent to judge, that the verses thus accredited to 
Dakiki actually show a difference in style and diction 
from Firdausi's own manner of composition. What is 
more, they prove, by their strength and finish, that Dakiki 
himself was a master of the epic style, inherited, no doubt, 
from his predecessors, and especially from Rudagi.^ 

1 On this whole subject of the epi- Nationalepos, in Grundr. 2. 148-150 ; 
sode and Dakiki's style see Noldeke, Warner, Shdhndma, 5. 20-22. 


The trumpet call to the nation, sounded by Dakiki 
from halfway up the heights of epic song, was sharp and 
clear, if not far-reaching ; but its blast was cut short 
before the full tone could be heard. The volume of a 
stronger trumpet blare was needed, the clarion note of a 
Firdausi on the topmost summit of the height, to impart 
to it that quality which makes it ring throughout the 
realm of time. 




(Early in the Eleventh Century A. D.) 

' And Peace to Mahmud on his golden Throne.' 

— FitzGbbald, Rubdiydt of Omar Khayydm, 11. 

The court of Firdausi's patron, Mahmud of Ghaznah, 
who ruled from 998 to 1030 a.d., included a Round Table 
of Poets — a Divan, ' Assembly,' it might have been 
called, although in Persian literary usage that word is 
applied rather to a collection of the poems of an author. 
Seats at the royal board or places in the assembly around 
the aureate throne were occupied only by bards who could 
claim their right to fame by infusing into their verse the 
spirit also of the great conqueror's time or by lavishing 
panegyrics upon their lord or on some court grandee. 
Even Firdausi in his great epic had to resort to a eulogy 
of Mahmud. Nevertheless, tinged though court poetry 
was with the fulsome flattery which prevailed in times 
when patrons, and not publishers, served to keep alive 
the Muses' song, there was heard often and again in the 
verse a personal note — that vox humana mingled with 
the vox seraphica — not drowned by the panegyric domi- 
nant. It is an echo of the minstrel's own soul, that finer 


feeling which thrills with the universal chord and makes 
the verse true poetry. 

Mahraud of Ghaznah, fosterer of poets and learned men 
though he was, was first and foremost a man of the 
sword. ^ His conquering blade brought under its sway a 
large portion of Persia proper, far outside of the ancestral 
domain of Ghaznah, the capital of a territory which 
now forms a part of Afghanistan. He launched, more- 
over, a dozen or seventeen successful raids against North- 
ern and Western India to give proof of the edge of his 
trenchant steel. ^ Yet with it all he knew that there was 
no better way to hand down his name than through the 
works of the poets and men of letters and science whom 
he gathered to grace his court. 

Mahmud, himself, on more than one occasion exchanged 
the pen for the sword. Six ghazals, or odes, are ascribed 
to his authorship.'^ Among the poems attributed to him, 
in addition to a heroic vaunt in verse, given 

' ° Mahmud of 

below, there exist three elegiac couplets that Ghaznah as a 
show a tenderer side of the conqueror's make- 
up. The half-dozen lines of this particular elegy give 
voice to a lament over the death of a young girl — 
Grulistwiy ' Rose-garden,' she was called — and they be- 
speak real devotion on . Mahmud's part. So, with the 

1 Cf . above, pp. 45-46. 3 Cf . Eth6, in Grundr. 2. 224, 225 n. 

* See Lane-Poole, Mediaeval India, (where the question of authenticity is 

pp. 14r-33, New York and London, raised); Schefer, Chrestomathie per- 

1903; and id. in History of India, ed. sane, 2. 247-252 (Persian text), and 

Jackson, 3. 14-35, London, 1906 ; con- pp. 242-246 (explanations), 
suit also V. A. Smith, The Oxford His- 
tory of India, pp. 190-195, Oxford, 1919. 


sad strain of ' dust thou art, to dust retumest,' I re- 
peat them here : 

Since thou, Moon, beneath the dust dost rest, 
Dust joins in union high with heaven's crest. 
My heart laments ; I say, * Heart, patient be. 
This Cometh by an All-just God's decree ! ' 
Man is of dust, — and dust must aye remain ; 
What's born of dust to dust returns again.* 

The heroic vaunt in verse, alluded to above, bears so 
much of the spirit of Mahmud, turning, as he does in the 
face of grim-visaged Death, to God, that I feel the lines 
to be genuinely Mahmud's (even though the authorship 
has been questioned).^ Accordingly I venture to trans- 
late them, with all their boastfulness that gives place to 
deep religious humihation : 


Out of fear for my conquering sword and my mace that cleaves 
strongholds amain. 

The earth is subdued by my might, as the body subdued by the 

Though in glory and power supreme, I am never contented to 

So from land unto land have I roamed, in ambition's high con- 
quering quest. 

Oftentimes I gave place to my fancy that I was a somebody great, 

In mine eyes have I now come to see king and pauper in equal 

If perchance thou should'st dig from two graves two skulls of 
the mouldering dead, 

1 Text, Aufi (ed. Browne and MIrza 2 gee also Browne, Lit. Hist. 2. 118, 

Muhammad KazvTni), 1. 26; cf. on Daulatshah's citation and ascrip- 
Browne, Lit. Hist. 2. 117. tion to Sanjar the Seljuk. 


Who knows which was crown of the king, and which was the 

hireling's head ? 
With one blow of my powerful fist I have thousands of 

strongholds laid low, 
With one stamp of my foot have I scattered multitudinous ranks 

of the foe. 
But when Death cometh now to assail me, naught availeth the 

way one has trod, 
'Tis the Lord that alone is abiding, and the King above Kings, 

it is God ! 1 

Poetry must have resounded at Mahmud's court, for 
we are told by Daulatshah that ' four hundred appointed 
poets ' (chahcir sad shair mutaayyin) thronged his capital.^ 
The names of a score of the more prominent are men- 
tioned offhand by the Persian writer Aruzi, who wrote in 
the twelfth century, and many others are known.^ Some 
of these minstrels, like Minuchihri, may come in for con- 
sideration in a later volume. But chief amidst the galaxy, 
tni the greater light of Firdausi came to outshine them 
all, were Unsuri and Farrukhi, while Asjadi also may be 
mentioned. The fact that these very three should have 
recognized Firdausi's superior genius when he arrived at 
Mahmud's palace, as related in the next chapter, speaks 
alike for their own merits as judges of real poetry and for 
their generosity as members of the fellowcraft of song. 

Unsuri, the first of the trio that have been named, 
was a native of Balkh, and held rank at Mahmud's court 

1 For the text here translated see 3 See Nizami-i Aruzi, Chahdr 
Daulatshah, p. 67 ; but consult espe- Makdla (ed. Mirza Muhammad 
cially the preceding note. Original Kazvini) p. 28 ; cf. tr. Browne, in 
rhyme o 6 d/, etc. JRAS. 1899, p. 658 (= reprint, p. 

2 See Daulatshah, Tadhkirat, pp. 46). 


not only as a royal panegyrist but as poet laureate. 
*King of Poets' was his title, and to Unsuri belonged, 
by court appointment, the prerogative of hav- 
d. 1040 or ing to pass first on every poetic composition 
that was presented, before it could reach the 
sovereign's ear.^ His accepted appellation was ^Master' 
Unsuri, and the other bards acknowledged themselves 
his disciples. Although, in a way, he was a natural rival 
of Firdausi, he proved himself a friend, and won from the 
great epic poet an encomium.^ Admiration was shown 
Unsuri likewise by others of his fellow-poets. Minuchihri 
(who died in 1041 a.d.) says that *the perfume of his 
verses was as sweet as the fragrance of the jasmine' 
{harm, huy-i saman) ; ^ while Aruzi, more than a century 
later, adds a tribute in verse to the lasting qua]ity of his 
poetry.'* His personality must have been attractive, since 
*he combined the rank of a favorite courtier with that 
of poet' (mansah-i nadimi ha shairl).^ Yet after all, 
little more is known regarding Unsuri' s life, except that 
he died in 1040 or 1050 a.d.« 

With regard to Unsuri's personality, moreover, and the 
„ ., influence which he exerted over his sovereign 

Unsun's " 

Gift of lord, we have an anecdote related by the 
above-mentioned Aruzi, which is worth repeat- 
ing.^ It happened that one night, when Mahmud was 

1 Daulatshah, pp. 44-45, cf. * Daulatshah, p. 44. 
Browne, Lit. Hist. 2. 120-121. « cf. Eth6, in Grundr. 2. 224. 

2 Daulatshah, p. 45. '' Aruzi, Chahdr Makdla, pp. 34- 

3 Daulatshah, p. 42, 1. 20. 26; cf. tr. Browne, JBAS. 1899, pp. 
* Aruzi, op. cit. p. 28 ; cf . tr. 762-764 ( = reprint, pp. 56-68) ; cf . 

Browne, JBAS. 1899, p. 660 (= re- also Pizzi, Storia, 1. 142, n. 5. 
print, p. 48). 


•well drenched with wine, he grasped a knife and was 
about to shear off the luxuriant tresses of hair which 
graced the temples of Ayaz, his favorite minion at court. 
He refrained, however, for the instant, but handed the 
blade to Ayaz, who dutifully cut off the curls from his 
own head and laid them before Mahmud. On coming to 
himself next morning — in the * False Dawn ' it may 
have been — the monarch was filled with despair at the 
act which he had caused ; and the court was plunged into 
equal despondency. A poet's skill alone could save the day. 
Unsuri was ready with an improvised quatrain at once. 

Though wrong, if that thy Idol's tress be shorn, 
What cause to rise and sit in grief forlorn ? 

'Tis time for mirth and glee — to call for wine ! 
Trimming the cypress' locks serves but t' adorn.* 

The poet's impromptu was a flash of genius ; the royal 
horizon was cleared, the court's equanimity restored. 
Mahmud was so well pleased with the quatrain, as the story 
concludes, that he ordered Unsuri's lap to be filled three 
times over with gold and silver. He then called for wine 
and for music, to the accompaniment of which the verses 
were repeated in song. All was serene ! 

Unsuri's literary activity must have been great, for we 
have the authority of Daulatshah to the effect that as 
poet laureate *he was continually composing poems on 
the deeds and battles of the King, and there is a lengthy 
panegyric of Unsuri's, about one hundred and eighty 

1 Text, Aruzi, op. cit. p. 35. The kdstan ast — khdstan ast — khvdstan 
original quatrain has a double rhyme : ast — plrdsian ast. 


couplets, in which he recorded in encomium-verse all of 
the King's battles, wars, and conquests.' ^ A Divan, or 
collection of Unsuri's poems, has in fact been preserved.^ 

Mention may be made of a rather long eulogy on 
Mahmud's brother. Prince Nasr, which is an example of 
the * question and answer ' style {su^al u javah), the lines 
alternating throughout with an interrogation and a re- 
sponse. The first dozen or sixteen verses read like a 
rhapsody of love between a wooer and his beloved, then 
leading up to the burden of the song, which is a panegyric 
of the prince.^ Among the poetic works of Unsuri 
there is likewise one, the loss of which is particularly to be 
regretted; it is a romantic epopee, Vctmik and 'Adhra, on 
a subject as old as Sasanian times ; but only some stray 
fragments of it have been preserved through chance 

Ethe's estimate of Unsuri's literary merits is not so 
high as was that of his own contemporaries, and he finds 
that Unsuri falls short of Rudagi, whom he sought to 
rival.^ But there is one little poem which I should like 

1 Daulatshah, p. 45. Two of Unsuri's Lughatri Furs (cf. ed. Horn, pp. 24- 
long panegyrics on Mahmud will be 25), six or seven couplet-stanzas being 
found translated into prose in Elliot among the citations (cf. fols. 20, 21 r, 
and Dowson, History of India, 4. 27 r, 40, 57, 58 r, 62 r). 

515-518, London, 1872 ; also a quat- ^ For text see Daulatshah, pp. 45- 
rain in praise of the same monarch, 46 ; and for a translation of the pane- 
op. cit. 4. 189 ; cf. likewise Pizzi, Sto- gyric, Browne, 2. 121-123. 
via, 1. 142-145. * Cf. Eth6, in Grundr. 2. 239-240 ; 

2 See Eth^, in Grundr. 2. 224, 225 Horn, Gesch. Pers. Litt. pp. 80, 177 ; 
n. , on a lithographed edition of Unsuri, and id. ed. Asadi's Lughatri Furs, p. 
which appeared in Teheran, a.h. 1298 25 ; Browne, 2. 275-276 ; cf. also 
(= 1881 A.D.). Note might be made Elliot and Dowson, History of India, 
also of the fact that Unsuri is cited 4. 189. 

over a hundred times in Asadi's * Eth6, in Grundr. 2. 224. 





Emukllismki, Inti:.,,,, .t,,i;v 1'a(.i: ,.|. a 1'ki;sia.n .MAMsr,;|I-r 

(From the Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts in the Metropolitan 

Museum of Art, New York) 

[To fact page 72'\ 


to quote, because of its strain — a miuor chord seemingly 
never absent from the music of these earlier Persian bards 
— the note perhaps of an Unsuri grown older, writing in 
a mood of true poetic despondency. Hamlet soliloquizing 
over Yorick's skull would have sympathized. 


Alas, that from this bright world we must go, 
Beneath a pit of clay, turned all to dust ! 

Body uncleansed from earthly sin to show 
Before a God, All-pure, Perfect, and Just ! 

That a mind, like tire's flash or water's flow, 
Should with the dust and wind find measure just ! * 

The second above-mentioned among the chief minstrel 
group at Mahmud's court, and associated with Firdausi, 
was Farrukhi. Thouerh rankine; below 

^ ° Farrukhi, 

Unsuri in position at the court circle, he is d. 1037 or 
regarded by modern judges as his superior in 
literary merit. Farrukhi was a native of Sistan, the 
province which still forms a part of the border between 
Persia and Southwestern Afghanistan. Tradition has it 
that his personal appearance was most unprepossessing 
and his dress uncouth — we can still see in fancy his 
heavy turban as a * Sagzi,' or native of Sistan, — but we 
are told that his native talents, his cleverness in poetic 
composition, especially in impro\dsation, and his skill in 
playing the lute (chang), were such that early in life he 
obtained a position at the baronial hall of one of the great 

1 Text, Mustaufi-iKazvini, Ta'ri/cA-i tr. Browne, in JRAS. 1900, p. 761 
Guzidah, ed. Browne (Gibb Mem. (= reprint, p. 41). Rliyme in the 
Series., 14. 1), p. 823, London, 1910 ; original, b df. 


landed proprietors of his native place, who gave him a 

yearly emolument. This salary was increased by the lord 

of the manor when Farrukhi married, but it still proved 

insufficient, as the story goes.^ So Farrukhi joined a 

caravan that was starting from Sistan, taking with him 

few if any effects, but furnished (as he himself says in a 


* With material spun in my brain 
And woven in my soul,' 

and journeyed to the princely domain of one of Mahmud's 
vassals, Amir Abu '1-Muzaffar, lord of a district in Trans- 
oxiana, whose reputation for munificence to poets was 

The vassal Amir, who happened to be a lover of horses 
as well as an appreciative listener to minstrelsy, chanced 
to be away from his princely residence, being engaged at 
the branding-ground, where ' 18,000 ' of his mares and 
colts were being branded that spring. By a happy cir- 
cumstance, however, a certain steward in high position 
at the palace, to whom Farrukhi applied, was a man of 
talents and could himself indite verses. He at once rec- 
ognized Farrukhi's merits in the encomium-poem which 
the minstrel brought with him, as composed for presenta-; 
tion to the Amir ; and after telling him that the prince 
was engaged in the round-up of colts, which were being 
lassoed for branding, suggested that a special poem suit- 
able for the occasion should be prepared. 

1 The whole account of Farrukhi mad, in Gibb Mem. Series, 11. 36-40); 
will be found in Nizami-i Aruzi's tr. Browne, in JRAS. 1899, pp. 764- 
Chahdr Makdla (ed. Mirza Muham- 772 (= reprint, pp. 58-66). 


It is probably unparalleled in the history of poetry 
that the subject of branding steeds should be used as a 
poetic theme ; but Pegasus was there, as the sequel proved. 
Overnight, Farrukhi improvised the verses which I trans- 
late below, and the friendly steward was amazed next 
mornmg upon hearing them. The vivid description of 
the springtide, the graphic scene of the plain, dotted with 
tents in which at evening convivial intercourse was held, 
the lively picture of the scampering colts trying to escape 
the Amir's lasso, and the lurid flare of the branding 
fires which blazed throughout the night, all revealed 
Farrukhi's genius for portraying a situation. 

Forthwith mounting the poet on a steed, the steward 
rode out with him to the branding-ground and conducted 
him that same evening into the princely presence. 

When the wine had gone round, Farrukhi rose and 
modestly recited at first the brief panegyric on the Amir 
which he had previously prepared, and which began with 
the couplet describing how he had come from Sistan by 
caravan to his court. The Amir, who was also something 
of a poet, showed pleasure ; but the steward added, ' Wait 
and see.' The flagons were filled again, and Farrukhi, 
to the accompaniment of the lute, whose strings he knew 
so well to tune, and amid rapt attention, broke forth 
in song with his newly improvised poem on ' the Brand- 
ing-ground ' — full of graphic color : 


Whilst the meadow hides its visage in a veil of emerald green, 
And the hill-tops wrap their foreheads in a fold of seven-hued sheen, 


The fragrant earth, like inusk-deer, an aroma boundless bears, 
And the willow, like the parrot's plume, a countless foliage wears. 
It was yestern — yester-midnight — that the zephyr's breeze did 

A vernal scent i' the northern blast. Hail to thee, breath of Spring I 
Stored in its sleeve, the wind, it seems, fine powdered musk enfolds, 
Whilst the garden, in its bosom, shining buds like puppets holds. 
The narcissus a bright necklace, set with shining gems, has on. 
And the red syringa wears in its ear rubies from Badakhshan. 
Yes, the branches of the rose-bush, too, have donned a wine-hued 

And five-fingered leaves, like human hands, from the sycamore hang 

down ; 
While the garden's changing boughs and sprays match the cha- 
meleon's hue. 
And the pool from pearl its lustre takes, as the clouds drop pearls 

of dew. 
Robes of honor, you might fancy, all had won by special grace, 
So full of color the garden-mead of the Royal Branding-place ; 
And the Royal Ground for Branding is so joyous and elate 
That our age stands now bewildered by its brilliancy's estate. 

And amidst the verdure's green on green, like stars within the sky, 
Tent after tent, like fort on fort, you everywhere descry. 
The greensward echoes constant to the lute of minstrels fine. 
And brave * Wassails ' in the tents resound, as the pages pour the 

In every tent is a lover, close wrapt in his sweetheart's arms. 
On every grassplot is a friend, to enjoy true friendship's charms. 
There are kisses, love's embraces, though coy damsels frown the while. 
Or the song and dance of minstrels to deep sleep the maids beguile. 

At the door of the pavilion tent of Prince * All-fortunate ' 
A branding-fire is blazing like the sun, without abate ; 
Its gleaming flames like lances dart, all girt with gold brocade. 
Hotter than a young man's passion, yellower than gold assayed. 
Like branching corals the branding-irons take on a ruby glow, 
And the prong of each, 'midst the fiery heat, a pomegranate's grain 

doth show. 


Slaves that ne'er know need of sleeping, rank on rank all ready 

Whilst the unmarked colts, aligned in rows, await the glowing 

On his gallant steed, * Stream-forder,' meanwhile rides the Prince 

Across the plain, lasso in hand, like young Isfandiar. 
See, how the lariat curleth, as the locks of some loved youth ! 
Yet its hold is firm, like to the bonds between old friends, in sooth — 
This Just King, Bu '1-Muzaffar, is attended by his band. 
He, the Prince and Lion-hunter, that holds cities in his hand. 
In his puissant grasp the lasso coils like to a serpent's fold, 
E'en as the rod turned to a snake in Moses' hand of old. 
What steed soe'er by the noose's loop is caught in its circling swing 
On the forehead, flank, and shoulder bears the brand-mark of the 

Yet, whilst giving brands on one side, he grants likewise rich 

His poets dowering with bridles, with caparisons his guests.* 

The Amir was delighted with the poem. His wit was 
quick, as the outcome shows, to catch the point in the 
closing verse regarding a bridled and caparisoned steed 
as a reward for a poet who came as a guest to the brand- 
ing-ground.^ His admiration was no doubt shared by the 
courtier-throng with plaudits, or with a ' bravo ' (ahsant) 
and a * wassail' {nush) as the goblets were replenished 
once more, while the Amir, not lacking in a sense of 
humor, called Farrukhi * a cunning rascal,' and then bade 
him go out and catch for his own as many of the round- 
up colts as he could. 

iText, Daulatshah, pp. 55-57; ^It seems certain that the veiled 

Aruzi, ed. MIrza Muhammad, in Gibb allusion, in the closing lines, to lagdm, 

Mem. 11. 37-39 ; tr. Browne, in JRAS. ' bridles,' and fasdr, ' caparisons ' (lit. 

1899, pp.767-769(=reprint, pp. 61-63). ' headstalls '), is so to be interpreted. 


Inspired by such a noteworthy mark of princely favor, 
and fired by the taste of the court wine, Farrukhi dashed 
forth, as the narrative continues, unwinding and waving 
his long turban in order to catch some of the horses, yet, 
for a considerable time, all in vain, wine-befogged as his 
brain was. But at last he succeeded in driving forty-two 
of the unbroken colts into the enclosure of a ruined 
caravanserai, where they sought refuge from the chase ; 
and then he lay down to sleep off the effects of his 
exertion and his over-copious drafts. 

Next morning — the account goes on — the Amir, after 
having heard the story, summoned Farrukhi into his 
presence, gave him, besides the wild colts, a charger of 
state with bridle and caparison, and bestowed upon him 
a lordly tent, camels, slaves, Persian carpets, and a robe 
of honor to boot. 

Farrukhi prospered in the Amir's service, and from 
there fortune soon led him to his longed-for goal, the 
royal palace of Mahmud at Ghaznah, where he was 
treated with so high favor that 'twenty servants, belted 
with silver girdles, rode in his train.' ^ Later in his 
career he seems, like so many others, to have fallen out 
of Mahmud' s good graces, and was banished from the 
court, though he survived that monarch and died in the 
year 1037 or 1038 a.d.' 

1 So Aruzi, Chahdr Makdla, re- mud's court but was robbed of it on his 
f erred to above ; cf. also Browne, Lit. way to Samarkand, a misfortune which 
Hist. 2. 128. he lamented in verse, translated in 

2 Cf. Eth^, in Grundr. 2. 224. The ElUot and Dowson, Hist, of India, 4. 
historian Khvandamir says that Far- 189-190 ; cf. also Pizzi, Storia, 1. 140. 
rukhi amassed great wealth at Mah- 


The poetical works of Farrukhi were collected into a 
Dlvan,^ still extant, and his verses show, beside the 
panegyric vein, a genuine power of description and a fine 
lyrical sense ; but his fame as a poet would not perhaps 
have lived if it had not been for his association with 

The third of the trio, named in the same connection 
with the coterie of four hundred court-bards, was Asjadi. 
Possibly his name would likewise not have Asjadi 
survived if he had not shared with Unsuri ^^- ^°^5 a» ) 
and Farrukhi in putting the famous rhyming-test to 
Firdausi when the latter was seeking admission to Mah- 
mud's court, as told in the next chapter (pp. 87-89). 

Too Httle, alas, has been preserved from Asjadi's pen ; 
and regarding his life it is open to question whether he 
was a native of Herat, Bukhara, or of Merv, though 
probably the latter.^ It may be also a matter of debate 
whether he really was a pupil of Unsuri.^ All the court 
poets called themselves disciples of that Laureate.^ A 
Divan of Asjadi was not current even in Daulatshah's 
time, the fifteenth century, although verses by him were 
quoted in poetic collections.^ In style he seems rather 

1 See Daulatshah, p. 57, 1. 13 ; and Aufi, 2. 50, says Merv. Cf. furthermore 
cf. EtM, in Grundr. 2. 225 n. ; Browne, Ethg, in Grundr. 2. 224 ; Browne, 2. 
Lit. Hist. 2. 124. Observe that Far- 123. Asjadi's death occurred about 
rukhi is cited some ninety times in 1040 a.d. (=a.h. 432), according to 
Asadi's Lughat-i Furs (ed. Horn), cf. Horn, Asadi's Lughat-i Furs, p. 24. 
esp. fols. 17 r, 48 r, 54, for brief ' Daulatshah, p. 47. 

stanzas ; there are also two stanzas ■• Cf . Daulatshah, p. 44, 1. 23. 

cited by Shams ibn Kals, al-Mu'jam ^ Cf. Daulatshah, p. 47. Also for 

(in Gibh Mem. 10), pp. 95, 325; cf. some of hLs fragments see Aufi, 2. 50- 

likewise citations, pp. 197, 339, 438. 53, and note that Asjadi is quoted 

2 Daulatshah, p. 17, says Bukhara; more than fifty times in Asadi's 


to have indulged in artificial devices and rhetorical 
effects. It was regarded in Persian poetry, for example, 
as a beauty and not as a defect to repeat the same word 
or radical two or three times. Asjadi does this in four 
verses which are not easy to render : 

Tear-drops, a-dripping, from my eyes I shed, 

Like the cloud, or like the murmuring, murmuring stream ; 
These drops the dripping rain have far outsped. 

These murmurs like my sad heart's murmurings seem.^ 

In a somewhat fanciful manner he says that, for weal 
or woe, he has become a Zoroastrian, because his heart 
bums with love like the flame of a fire-temple, and his 
bloodshot eyes stream like a wine press — the Magians, 
it may be noted, had no scruples about making or 
drinking wine.^ 

Among the stray bits of Asjadi's song, however, may 
be cited in this connection a quatrain which tells the tale 
of Asjadi's having looked upon the wine cup when it 
was red, but as having repented : 


Of wine and praise of wine I do repent. 

Of lovely maids, fair chins with silver blent. 

Lip-penitence ! Heart lusting still for sin ! 

God, such penitence thou dost resent ! ^ 

Lughatri Furs (cf . ed. Horn, p. 24), the original the repetition (five times 

among them a couple of stanzas in each) of katrah, ' drop,' and khlrah, 

quatrain form (cf. fols. 8 r, 33). 'idle murmuring' ; and consult also 

1 For text see Shams ad-Din Mu- Horn, Gesch. Pers. LitL, p. 64. 
hammad ibn Kais ar-Razi, al-Mu'jam 2 cf . Horn, op. cit. p. 80 ; and see 

fiMa'dylriAsh^dri 'i-'JJam (ed. Mirza above, pp. 34, 39, 52 n. 1, 62. 
Muhammad, in Gibb Mem. Series 10), ' Text, Daulatshah, p. 47 ; cf. also 

p. 316, London, 1909. Observe in Browne, 2. 123. 


As this quatrain was recited by Asjadi, there may have 
been sighs and there may have been whispers among the 
throng of courtiers ; yet when a madrigal fell from his 
lips, there must have been salvos. No tone heroic, how- 
ever, was in Asjadi's voice ; and the king, grandees, 
courtiers, and pages alike, stood listening till a Firdausi 
should arise and sing in strains of rhapsody an epic for 
all time. 


(About 935-1025 A. D.) 

' Shapes of epic grandeur are stationed around me.' 

— Keats, Letters. 

The trumpet's blare resounds, the din of battle fills 
the au*, and the verse rings with the valorous deeds of 

Persia's heroes and the proud triumphs of long lines 
Great Epic of ancient kings. Epic poetry has come into 
being through the clarion voice of Fkdausi to give ex- 
pression to the inherited pride of the nation in her glory 
before the Arab Conquest. If it is epic poetry that 
recalls to the memory of a folk the greatness of its 
pristine fame, the Shah-namah does this for Persia as 
its epic poem paramount, and Firdausi's masterpiece 
enters at the same moment into the list of the great 
heroic poems of the world. 

As already noted, the Arab Conquest of Persia, like 
the Norman Conquest of England, may have weakened 
the national feeling, but it did not destroy it.^ The 
battle of Nahavand meant to Iran, in the realm of letters, 
much the same thing as the battle of Hastings meant to 
Britain. In each case there was born a poet-genius of 

1 See above, pp. 12-15. 


world-wide fame three centuries after the clash of arms 
had ceased, though it must be emphasized that Firdausi's 
epic talents lay in a realm quite different from Chaucer's 
story-telling gifts. 

A closer parallel in the domain of epic composition, 
and yet one vastly to the advantage of the Persian 
rhapsodist, might easily be drawn between 
Firdausi's Shah-namah and the rhymed chron- Parallel 
icle of Layamon's Brut, which recorded in 
measured verse the History of the Early Kings of Britain. 
In both instances the poet-annalist harked back to themes 
in a national past otherwise long forgotten ; both bards 
alike, though separated from each other in the realm of 
space and time, made use of material handed down from 
ancient days; and in each case there was something of 
the soul of the poet commingled with the spirit of 
the historian and chronicler. The comparison, however, 
between the sixteen thousand double verses of the Brut, 
uncouth in form, and the sixty thousand couplets of the 
Shah-namah, polished to the finest finish, might easily 
be overdrawn; nevertheless there would still be room 
to add that if the British bard was chary in using words 
from the vocabulary of the Norman-French conquerors, 
the Persian rhapsodist was equally careful in avoiding, 
as far as possible, linguistic borrowings from the speech 
of the Arab victors. Firdausi might justly be called 
* a well of Persian undefiled.' ^ 

1 Yet on this entire question of in Grundr. 2. 149 n. 4, p. 150 ; and 
employing Arabic words compare Browne, Lit. Hist. 2. 145-146. 
Noldeke, Bos iranische Nationalepos, 


As has been seen already, this Homer of Iran repre- 
sents the cresting of the national wave of patriotism. 
Dakiki He was the successor of the gifted Dakiki, 
as Forerunner ^^^^ youthful herald whose tragic death came 
at the very moment when he was about to proclaim the 
first fruits of the epic victory in whose triumph he 
himself was not to share. 

The nation had been waiting for an epic bard ; the time 
was ripe, the path was clear. Firdausi seized the chance. 
Inspiration Born at Tus, in Northeastern Persia, about 
for Firdausi 935 ^ j^ (possibly five years earlier) of old 
Iranian stock and a member of the Dihkan class of landed 
proprietors in Khurasan, whom the Arab Conquest had 
not effectually displaced, and in whose families were pre- 
served the oldtime legends and historic traditions of Iran, 
Firdausi possessed an inherited aptitude for the theme. 
His poetic talents and his enthusiastic zeal for the task 
qualified him alike. 

Antiquarian materials, moreover, were available in 

sufficient measure for the genius that could recognize 

their national worth. Chronicle-histories of 


Sources for Media and Persia had been kept from the 
^^^ earliest times, if we may judge from state- 
ments in the Greek writers Herodotus, Ktesias, and Aga- 
thias, the Armenian Moses of Khorene, and from the 
biblical authority of the Book of Esther.^ It seems clear 
that these annals were continued down to the time of the 

1 Cf. Herodotus, 1. 1-5, 95, 214 ; 2. 27 ; 4. 30 ; Moses of Khorene, 2. 
Ktesias, Frag. p. 98 (ed. Gilmore) ; 67 ; and Esther, 6. 1 ; 10. 2 ; see also 
Diodorus Siculus, 2. 22. 5 ; Agathias, Xenophon, Cyrop. 1. 2. 1. 


later Sasanian monarchs and must have been accessible 
to any court antiquarian. Tradition makes it certain 
that a collection from this storehouse, to which the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle is only a remote parallel, was made in 
the form of a prose-epic, the Khvatai-namak, or * Book of 
Sovereigns,' somewhere about 640 a.d. under Yazdagard 
III, the last of the Sasanian Kings. This epic thesaurus 
was gathered together by one Danishvar, a member of 
the dihJidn class of landed gentry, who was interested in 
the past records of his country. Traces of the work have 
been preserved, and it must have been known in the 
tenth century, Dakiki's time, and surely served Firdausi, 
however directly or indu-ectly, as a source for his famous 

Dakiki's death and Firdausi' s own ambition were the 
sparks that kindled the epic fire in the Bard of Tus. 
We can imagine the quickened pulse-beat 

* ^ ^ Firdausi'3 

with which Firdausi saw in a dream ' that Dream of 
youth, Dakiki, of fair speech and of brilliant 
mind,' as he calls him, when his dead predecessor appeared 
in a vision and gave him the inspiration that led him to 
seek for a copy of that ancient chronicle-book. Firdausi's 
own words best tell the tale of what the poet's shade, 
in its spectral apparition., meant to him, so I versify them 
here somewhat freely : 

My heart was fired, as from his sight it turned 
Towards the world's Sovereign Throne, and inly yearned, 
' May I lay hand upon that book some day 
And tell, in my own words, that ancient lay ! ' 


Countless the persons whom I sought for aid, 
As I of fleeting time was sore afraid 
Lest I in turn not long enough should live, 
But to another's hand the task must give. 
Nay more — lest that my means should ne'er suffice, — 
For such a work there was no buyer's price ; 
The age forsooth was filled with wars of greed, 
A straitened world it was for those in need. 

Some time in that condition did I live, 
Yet of my secret not a word did give. 
Finding no person who my aims would share, 
Nor act for me with friendly patron care. . . . 

By hap, a friend beloved at Tus I had ; 
Thou would'st have said ' Two souls in one skin clad ! ' 
To me he spake, ' Good is thy whole project, 
Thy foot toward fortune now is turned direct ; 
That book, which written is in Pahlavi, 
I'll get for thee ; but slack thou must not be ; 
Thine is the gift of speech, and youth is thine 
To tell the tale of champions' deeds — in fine, 
Do thou the Kingly Book anew relate 
And seek through it renown among the great.' 

When he at last that book before me laid 
He made ablaze with light my soul of shade ! ^ 

Without doubt, Firdausi had actually made long and 
conscientious preparation for his special task of rehabilitat- 
Firdausi's i^g ^^^ national epos of his people, equipping 
Qualifications i^ijjiself by researches into the Pahlavi, or 
Middle Persian, sources from which he could draw material 
for his long chronicle-poem. That he had a scholarly 

1 Cf. Vullers, 1. 9 ; Pizzi, 1.112; Vullers-Landauer, 3. 1495; cf. tr. Mohl, 
Mohl, 1. 12; Warner, 1. 109. In the 4. 287; Warner, 5. 30-31; Pizzi, 5. 
same connection see furthermore 76-77. 


acquaintance with Arabic, despite his natural avoidance 
of that idiom in a Persian epic, is shown by his accurate 
emplo}Tiient of occasional Arabic words when they could 
not absolutely be avoided. Regarding his masterly con- 
trol of Persian as a poet, no comment need be made ; and 
the dignity of his style throughout is harmonious with 
his heroic theme. 

From incidental allusions in the Shah-namah itself we 
may infer that Firdausi was approximately forty years old 
(about the year 974 a.d.) when he made the Earlier 
real beginning of his monumental work. From Career 
other personal references in the poem we know that he 
was married and that he had had two children — the one a 
son, whose death he mourned in touching strains; the 
other a daughter, who survived him. For nearly twenty-five 
years Firdausi appears to have labored at his home in Tus 
upon the cherished theme of his life. His growing fame 
was doubtless then the cause of his seeking preferment at 
the court of Mahmud of Ghaznah, where he found a 
sovereign-patron that shed munificent favor so great at 
the outset as to win from the poet a fervid eulogy of 
praise only to be later revoked. The poem in its final 
form still commemorates the glory of Mahmud's name, 
but the scathing satire from the pen of the bard, dis- 
abused of his hopes, as mentioned below, remains a lasting 
stigma on the ruler's fame.^ 

Tradition narrates — and the story is old and probably 
true in its general setting — that Firdausi first approached 

1 See Jackson, From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam, p. 281. 


Mahmud's Round Table of court poets at a moment when 
they were engaged in poetic composition. The same 
T X . .• X tradition sives the names of the three chief 

Introduction at ° 

Mahmud's minstrels as Unsuri, Asjadi, and Farrukhi. 
It may have been natural for them not to 
wish to admit an outsider into their favored circle. At 
all events, the anecdote recounts that, to put to shame 
their unwelcome intruder, they bade him stand the test of 
matching one of the hardest rhymes in Persian poetry. 
The words were ruslian, ' bright,' gulshan, '■ rose-garden,' 
and jushan, ^ cuirass ' — rhymes as hard to mate as window, 
twelfth, month, and silver in English. Firdausi, they 
thought, would not be able to complete the fourth line 
with any rhyme at all. So Unsuri, in praise of the love- 
liness of a fair maiden, began : 

* Thy visage the light of the moon doth surpass.' 

Farrukhi matched this with — 

' No rose in the garth hath thy cheek's bloom, sweet lass.' 
Asjadi continued by another puzzling catchword, 

' Thine eyelashes pierce like a lance through cuirass.' 
Firdausi instantly caught up the rhyme — 

* As Giv's spear in combat did Pushan harass.' * 

The readiness of the response and the interesting his- 
torical allusion to Giv, which was unknown to the coterie, 
together with Firdausi's quickness as he proceeded in per- 
fect verse to tell the story of the eventful battle between 
the two heroes, Pushan and Giv, whom he had thus men- 

1 For references in detail see Jackson, From Constantinople, 't^^. 281-282, n. 2. 


tioned, immediately won applause and generous admira- 
tion fi-om the three. Charmed by Firdausi's poetic grace, 
and impressed by his personality, gifts, and learning, 
Unsm-i, Farrukhi, and Asjadi recognized him unhesitat- 
ingly as their compeer, or as their superior, and proceeded 
to advance him in every way in favor with the Sultan, 

If the story be true, such an example of disinterested- 
ness would not be easy to parallel in the East nor could 
it be readily matched in the West. Unfortunately this 
story, although written in very choice Persian, is now 
often regarded as mere fiction. Nevertheless (and this 
detail should be emphasized) it conveys some idea of the 
general estimation in which Firdausi's genius was held at 
least by tradition.^ Among other current tales, moreover, 
is one that Mahmud had praised the newly-arrived bard 
from Tus by saying that he had, through his verses, turned 
the Court into a * Paradise' (Firdaiis), whence Firdausi 
assumed this appellation as his poetic name ; but other ex- 
planations are possible.^ 

It is well known that this poet, more than worthy of a 
laureate title, lived long in the sunshine of Mahmud's 
court, who promised him a thousand gold The Years at 
pieces for each thousand lines of his epic ^^""^ 
composition. Sultan Mahmud's liberality called forth 
from Firdausi the splendid panegyric, already mentioned, 

1 See my article on Firdausi in ideas in the present chapter. 

Warner, The World's Best Literature, 2 gee Khvandamir, tr. Elliot and 

10. 5735-5739, New York, 1917, and Dowson, History of India, i. 191 ; a.nd 

also From Constantinople, pp. 281-282. cf . Browne, Lit. Hist. 2. 138, n. 3, 139 ; 

From both of these works I have re- in which connection see footnote in my 

peated in part some paragraphs or From Constantinople, p. 284, n. 2. 


that was only to be eclipsed, years later, by the sav- 
ageness and scathing satire, which the poet in old 
age poured out against his niggard patron when dis- 
appointed of the promised reward that was to crown 
his work. 

Tradition recounts that Firdausi was a septuagenarian 
when the last line of the 60,000 couplets that make 
up the Shah-namah was completed, and the 
pieted; dis- T^oysil reward for his life's labor became due. 
appointed g^^ jealousy and intrigue against him had 
not been idle during his long residence at 
court. Instead of the promised gold, Mahmud was in- 
duced to send him 60,000 dirhams in silver. Firdausi 
is said to have been in the bath when the elephant laden. 
with the money-bags arrived. On discovering the de- 
ception the injured poet rejected the gift with scorn, 
divided the silver into three portions, presenting one of 
them to the bath-steward, another to the elephant-driver, 
while he bestowed the last upon an attendant who 
brought him a glass of cordial. He then gave vent to 
the venom of his spleen in the famous satire, which is 
as immortal as the epic itself, holding Mahmud's slave- 
born origin up to eternal scorn. The angry monarch 
ordered that the poet should be crushed to death beneath 
the foot of an elephant, but Firdausi managed to save 
his life by fleeing from the city, only to become an exile 
in poverty and dire distress. 

For ten years the aged singer was a wanderer, though 
he ultimately found, in Tabaristan, a princely patron, 


Tin; IJkux.k (»\i:ii the Ka.shaf IIivku at Tcs 
(From a photograph by the author) 

w - 


Ruined Walls of Tus at the Site of the Former Rudkar 


(From a photograph by the author) 
[ Til face page i)U] 


who sought to reconcile him with the unappreciative 
lord of Ghaznah. Owing to this prince's favor, it is said, 
he was induced to expunge the biting lines written in 
derision of Malimud, though they still live pirdausi in 
on as a stigma in many manuscripts of the ^'^^* 
Shah-namah to tarnish the fame of that despotic, though 
great, ruler. To his new benefactor at the Tabaristan 
court, Firdausi dedicated the long romantic poem, composed 
in his old age, on * Yusuf and Zulaikha,' or the love of 
Potiphar's wife for Joseph — an acknowledged masterpiece 
in the realm of versified romance. 

In the bard's last days, for he was now advanced to 
his ninetieth year, the longing seems to have come upon 
him to return to his old home at Tus, and The Bards 
there he died of a broken heart, it is said, on ^*^^ ^^^^ 
hearing a child in the market-place repeating verses from 
his terrible satire. 

An old-time tradition relates that Mahmud had mean- 
while relented of his anger, and had despatched to the 
city of Tus a magnificent caravan, bearing Mahmud 
to the aged poet gifts fully equivalent to Relents 
the gold pieces of which he had been disappointed, and 
bestowing upon him a robe of honor worthy of his 
fame. But all too late. The treasiu-e-laden camel train, 
having crossed the Kashaf River at Tus, entered the city 
gate just as the funeral procession was conducting the 
dead poet's body to the grave. The date of his death 
was about the year 1025 a.d., or, according to another 
reckoning, the year 1020 a.d. ; and his body was interred 


at Tus, though the precise spot which was his burial place 

can no longer be identified.^ 

His Lasting Though nearly a thousand years have passed 

Fame since Firdausi's death, his name still lives 

and his fame will last. Firdausi himself, even in the de 

profundis moments of darkest despondency, rises to the 

heights of exultation in a personal passage in the great 

epic when he exclaims in a vaunt, proud as the boast of 


From poesy I've raised a tower high, 

Which neither wind nor rain can ever harm ; 
Over this work the years shall come and go, 

And he that wisdom hath shall learn its charm ; 

and again, with assurance of undying renown, he closes 
the famous poem with the verse : 

I shall live on ; the seeds of words have I 
Sown broadcast, and I shall not wholly die.^ 

1 See Jackson, From Constanti- 2 gee Jackson, From Constanti- 

nople to the Rome of Omar KJiayyam, nople, p. 293. 
pp. 284-285, 290-292. 




' As full of valour as of royal blood.' 

— SiiAKEsrEARE, Bichatd the Second, 5. 5. 112. 

The story of the Shah-namah may be described in 
briefest terms as the chronicle history of Iran from the 
age of the mythical ruler Kaiumars, or Gayu- 
mart, whom tradition places about 3600 B.C., of the 
down to the death of the last Sasanian king, 
the historic Yazdagard III, in 651 a.d., and the events 
accompanying the fall of the empire through the Arab 

The argument, if we so may term it, of the epic begins 
with a poetic picture of the rise of the Iranian empire 
in legendary antiquity, followed by the golden age during 
the reign of King Jamshid, succeeded by a thousand cruel 
years of foreign rule under Zahak, typifying the sway 
of Babylon for centuries over Iran, till that usurping 
yoke of Semitic tyranny could at last be thrown off by 
the renowned Faridun of fabled fame. Wars between 
Turan and Iran next fill the scene as the result of civil 
strife and bloody fratricide until, in Minucliihr's reign, 
the poem tells, in a long romantic episode, how the love 
of the valiant Zal for the fair Rudabah gave birth to 



Rustam, the great hero of the epic. Rustam's martial 
exploits, herculean labors, and signal triumphs (one of 
them being, alas, the tragic slaying in single combat of 
Suhrab, his own son, whom he did not recognize) occupy 
a large part of the poem. 

The majesty of the Kaianian rulers, king after king 
and event following event, forms the burden of the epic 
song in chronicle order down to the time when Alexander 
the Great invaded Iran. The sway of the Parthian 
Arsacids, however, who followed with a rule of five hun- 
dred years, is crowded into a period of quarter that length 
of time (owing to an established tradition), and reduced 
to a minor section as compared with the rest of the 

Yet poesy and history join hand in hand, in fairly signifi- 
cant grasp, when Firdausi reaches the era of the Sasanian 
rule, or from about 226 to 650 a.d. It may furthermore 
be added that throughout his whole work Firdausi deals 
with his subject as a poetic chronicler and not as a cold 
historian ; but he has succeeded withal in giving a certain 
unity of purpose to his long poem by keeping ever in 
sight the aim which he had in view, which was to exalt 
the fallen glory of Iran. 

There are translations of the Shah-namah into English, 
French, Italian, and (incomplete) into German. They are 
referred to in the Bibliography at the beginning of this 
volume, the best English translation being that by Arthur 
G. and Edmond Warner. I have nevertheless ventured to 
add here some translations which I have made of several 


selections, the first excerpt being rendered into rhyme, 
with a rhythm modelled somewhat after the mutakarib ; 
the other three are in blank verse, which latter form I 
have chosen also for the famous episode of Suhrab and 



(This monarch, who was a pioneer in civilization, is supposed to have Uved 
about 3000 b.c, and legend assigns to him a fabulous reign of seven hundred 
years. In translating the present selection an attempt has been made to repre- 
sent somewhat the rhythm and the rhyme of the original Persian. )i 

Then Jamshid, the scion of glorious line, 
"With girt loins and full of his father's design, 
Ascended the radiant throne in his stead. 
In the manner of kings, a gold crown on his head. 
With glory majestic his form was bedight, 
The world, end to end, then conceded his right ; 
The times ceased from tumult throughout the whole land, 
E'en Demons, Birds, Peris, obeyed his command ! 
Prosperity waxed in the world through his lead, 
And the throne of the kings became glorious indeed. 
Quoth he, ' I am graced with the Glory Divine, 
The office of king and of priest I combine ; 
The hand of the wicked I'll cut short from sin. 
Their souls toward the light it is I that shall win. 

To the making of weapons he first turned his hand, 
And opened Fame's portals, as heroes demand. 
Through skill of his majesty, iron he melted 
And steel into helm, plate, and corselet he smelted. 
As mail and cuirass or as trappings for steeds ; 
By the light of his genius he 'complished these deeds. 
For fifty full years in this manner he wrought, 
And treasures of that kind together he brought. 

He next worked on vestments, full fifty years more. 
That the folk might have robes for the feast as for war. 
Of linen, silk, hair, and of soft floss he made 
Rich raiment, and also of fur and brocade. 

1 Text, Vullers, 1. 23-26 ; cf. tr. Mohl, 1. 33-37 ; Warner, 1. 131-134 ; Pizzi, 
1. 137-141; cf. Rogers, p. 16 f. 


Tlie people he taiip^ht botli to spin and to weave, 
And woof within warp on the loom's beam to reeve ; 
And when it was woven to wash and to sew ; 
To learn this from him in detail did he show. 

A new plan he made when all this he had done 
So glad was the time and such joy he had won. 
A gathering from every profession he drew, 
And spent in this way a half cycle anew. 

The class of the Priests, who as clerics are known — 
Who are worshipers deemed, by a right of their own — 
He now set apart from the rest of the throng, 
Assigned them the hill-tops for worship in song ; 
Devotion and praise it is theirs to combine, 
Enwrapt in the glorious Presence Divine. 

To the next of the classes he then turned aside, 
The Warrior Caste's name to them is applied. 
Whenever these lion-knights join in the fight. 
The army and realm gain in glorious light ; 
To them it is owing the king holds his throne, 
And the valorous name of the country is known. 

The third class as Tillers of soil you may know ; 
Obligation to no one they anywhere owe. 
They plant and they till, and the harvest they rear ; 
And when men eat their products, no censure they hear. 
They brook no command, though in rags they be dressed. 
Nor by sound of complaint is their ear e'er distressed — 
Exempt through their tilling the face of the ground. 
Exempt from all censure and talk that goes round. 
Dost know the quaint saw that the wise spokesman gave ? 
* 'Tis idleness maketh the free man a slave.' 

To the fourth class the Artisan name is applied ; 
Their hands they all use, and their skill is their pride. 


And what though a trade their sole calling may be, 
Their heart from concern never wholly is free. 

In this way another half century he spent, 

And benefits many to mankind thus lent. 

His own proper place through him each man attained ; 

To each one he showed how the path could be gained, 

So that each one his own fitting station might see 

And should know more or less what behooved his degree. 

He ordered the Div-fiends of uncleanly birth 
To mix up with water the clay of the earth. 
Then the crude mass, as soon as to shape it they knew. 
With skill into light moulded brick-forms they threw. 
With mortar and stone the foundations they raised. 
By architect's science the work was appraised. 
Hot baths thus were builded and palaces high, 
And halls of retreat where from danger to fly. 

The rocks he searched next for their jewels so bright, 
And many the number his search brought to light ; 
There were jewels of all kinds that came to his hold. 
Such as rubies, carnelian, with silver and gold. 
All these from the stones he by magic art drew, 
As the key for each separate mystery he knew. 

Next perfumes delicious 'twas his to invent, 
Which pleasure for mortals impart by their scent ; 
Like balsam and camphor and musk of the deer, 
Like aloes, and amber, and rosewater clear. 

Then leechcraft and healing for every known pain, 
The way to 'scape ills and sound health to regain — 
These secrets from hiding he all did unfold ; 
No searcher like him hath on earth e'er been told. 


Anon on the sea in a ship he did toss, 
And swift from one hind to another did cross. 
In manner like that, tifty years did pass still ; 
Naught else by this time he saw hid from his skill. 

And when, by himself, all these deeds he had done, 

No mortal he saw saving himself alone ; 

And since through his skill all such things did transpire. 

He planted his foot to ascend a step higher. 

Yea, a glorious throne, sovran-worthy, he made, 

Incrusted with gems and with jewels inlaid. 

The Divs at his bidding did raise it on high. 

Aloft from the plain far up into the sky, 

In mid-air it shone like the glistening sun. 

The king gave his edicts when seated thereon. 

The whole world assembled his bright throne around ; 

And stood at his glorious lot in astound. 

While jewels on Jamshid were scattered and thrown ; 

The day ever since has as ' New Year's ' been known, 

The first of God's New Year, the month Farvadin, 

Each man freed from toiling, each heart from chagrin. 

The grandees in gladness a feast did array. 

They called for the wine cup and minstrels to play ; 

And hence doth that glorious fete ever stand 

To keep up the fame of that sovereign so grand. 




(The inveterate warfare which raged between Iran and Turan grew out of 
the fratricidal strife between the famous Faridun's three sons, Iraj, Tur, and 
Salm, among whom respectively he had divided the kingdoms of Persia, Turan, 
and China. The youthful Iraj, lord of Iran, was treacherously murdered by his 
two brothers ; but his son, Prince Minuchihr, became the avenger and led the 
Iranian hosts to battle and victory over the Turanians. This was the beginning 
of the continuous series of conflicts between these two countries, which forms 
the burden of a large part of the Shah-namah. The opening engagement, 
when the avenging Minuchihr gives the signal for battle, and victory lights 
upon the standards of Iran, is thus described in heroic verse.) i 

When dawn burst forth from out the eastern sky, 
Rending apart the darkness of the night, 
Prince Minuchihr advanced out from the ranks, 
Wearing his corselet, sword, and Ruman casque. 

A shout, with one accord, the army raised. 

Their lances lifted upward toward the clouds, 

Heads full of wrath, brows knit with vengeful frowns ; 

They plowed the very face of earth amain. 

The king arrayed his troops, as fits a host, 

Left, right, and center, and the army's flanks. 

The earth became like ship upon the main. 

Thou might'st have said it was about to sink. 

The sign he gave, on his huge elephant. 
Then 'gan the ground to heave like azure sea ; 
The drummers marched before the elephants 
With din and roar like lions in a rage, 
The clarions and the trumpets sounded loud 
As though a festival were taking place. 

Both hosts advanced like mountains from their base, 
A battle-cry rang out on either side ; 

1 Text, Vuller-s, 1. 109, 112 ; cf. tr. Mohl, 1. 143-144, 146 ; Warner, 1. 219- 
220, 221; Pizzi, 1. 273-274, 278. 

l\\i;i!>i \'s (ri;ii:i- at the Murder OF HIS Son Ika.i 
(From the Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts in the Metropolitan 

Maseum of Art, New York) 

\_To face page 100] 


The plain became as 'twere a sanguine sea, 

Thou 'dst said that blood-red tulips sprang from earth. 

In streams of gore the elephants stood, knee-deep, 
Mounted as 'twere on coral pedestals ; . . . 
The air was clogged with fog from the horsemen's dust, 
Like lightning flashed their gleaming swords of steel, 
Thou might'st have thought the sky was all ablaze, 
So shone earth's surface diamond-like with tlame. 



(The warrior Sam, ancestor of Rustam, is one of the heroes of the poem. 
Among his deeds of prowess was the slaying of a dragon which had devastated 
the earth. The description of this Geste is somewhat fantastic in its hyperbole, 
but is not without parallel in medieval Western romance or even in our oldest 
English epic, which tells of the fire-breathing dragon which Beowulf slew. ) i 

When out from Kashaf's stream the dragon came 

Lashing, it made the whole world like to foam ; ^ 

Its length seemed stretched on earth from town to town, 

Its bulk from hill to hill seemed in expanse. 

All hearts with panic were aghast at it. 

Keeping watch day and night continuously. 

Even the sky became bereft of birds, 

The face of earth entire deprived of beasts ; 

The very vulture's wings singed by its blast, 

The world ascorch did with its venom blaze. 

Fierce crocodiles it drew from out the stream 

And eagles swift of wing from out the sky ; 

The earth, of man and moving thing was reft, 

The whole world yielded to it room and space. 

Then when I saw no human being left, 
Able to dare with it in hand combat, 
I, trusting God, the World-protector pure, 
Cast from my inmost heart each spark of fear. 
My loins I girt in name of God Most High, 
Mounting my steed, whose size was mammoth-like. 
Ox-headed mace upon my saddle-cross, 
Bow on mine arm, my hauberk on my neck. 

1 Text, Vullers, 1. 194-196 ; of. tr. 2 The river Kashaf flowed by the 

Mohl, 1. 243-246 ; Warner, 1. 296- city of Tus, Firdausi's home. 
297; Pizzi, 1. 399-401; Atkinson, p. 


Forward like furious crocodile 1 rushed, 

I with keen grasp, he with sharp tlaming breath ; 

All they that saw, bade me a last farewell. 

As Vainst the dragon-monster mace I drew. 

1 rerched it, -saw as 'twere a mountain huge. 

Its coil-like hair was dragging on the earth ; 

Its swarthy tongue looked like an ebon tree, 

Its gnashing jaws, wide yawning, barred the path. 

Two pools of blood its gleaming eyeballs were I 

At sight of me it roared, and furious sprang : 

It seemed to me, O thou that hearest this. 

As though it fire bore within its frame. 

The ground seethed like a sea beneath my eyes 

Or floated like a sombre cloud in smoke ; 

Aghast was, at its roar, the face of earth, 

The world empoisoned was, like China's sea. 

Then lion-like, I raised a fearful shout. 
As it behooveth man of valiant heart. 
And set forthwith an arrow on my bow — 
It was a shaft whose point was diamond — 
And shot the arrow down its jaws amain. 
Pinning its tongue within that awful mouth. 

And yet remained a part of its tongue outside 
Beyond the cloven jaws after that stroke. 
Into its throat I launched a second shaft, 
Whereat the horrid creature writhed with pain ; 
Then shot a third into its maw adown. 
The dragon's life gushed from its baneful spleen. 
But earth had grown too narrow for my rage, 
In wrath I drew my famed bull-headed mace - 
(With strength from God, Lord of the Universe) 
Spurring my mammoth steed apace towards it, 



And smote with bull-topped mace the dragon's head, 
(Thou 'Idst say the sky a mountain had poured down !) 
Like a mad elephant its skull I crushed, 
Venom streamed over all, like the River Nile. 
It ne'er recovered more from my blow's force ; 
The ground rose mountain-like with its huge brain, 
While Kashaf's stream to bitter bile was churned ; 
Then peace and rest once more to earth returned. 



(The episode of Suhrab and Rustam, in which the warrior Rustam unwit- 
tingly shiys his own son in single combat, is one of the most famoas epLsodes in 
the Shah-namah. Parallels in the Old High German epic fragment of Hilde- 
brand and Hadubrand or in the tragic story of CucuUin and Conloch, pre- 
served in the reliques of Irish poetry, are not far to seek. Matthew Arnold, in 
English, has modelled his ' Sohrab and Rustum ' on the theme, with a free 
treatment but with poetic art sustained to the tragic close. Blank verse is here 
chosen for my rendering from the Persian.) 



Rustam made ready, donned his tiger-mail 

And girt the royal girdle 'bout his waist. 

Vaulting on Rakhsh, his steed, he took the road. 

To Zawarah, guard of the throne and host. 

He said : ' Advance no further step from here ; 

Hearken to me rather than to the chiefs I ' 

His gonfalon they bore along with him ; 

Thus marched he forth, vengeful and full of wrath. 

When he saw Suhrab and his neck and arms, 

And brawny chest like that of warrior Sam, 

He said to him, ' Come, let's aside from here. 

Let's to a field of fight outside the lines! ' 

Suhrab clasped hands with him and then withdrew 

To the place of fight far from the serried ranks, 

Saying to Rustam, ' On! till we arrive 

At the place apart ! We are the heroes twain : 

Not one need we from Iran or Turan, 

Enough that thou and I together fight. 

Yet on the field there is no room for thee. 

Not one blow from my fist thou could'st withstand ; 

» Text, VuUers, 1. 487-489 ; cf. tr. 162 ; Pizzi, 2. 263-266; Rogers, p. 169- 
Mohl, 2. 116-117; Warner, 2. 161- 174. 


Tall though thy stature, stout thy chest and neck, 
They are enfeebled with the weight of years.' 

Rustam cast glance upon the champion bold, 

Upon his shoulders, arms, and stirrups long ; 

Gently to him he said, ' O gentle youth, 

The earth is cold, the air is mild and warm. 

Though old in years, I've many a combat seen, 

Many the army I have crushed to earth. 

Many the demon that my hand hath slain. 

Nor saw I yet when I have met defeat. 

Just wait till thou hast seen me on the field ; 

Should'st thou survive, fear not Leviathan ! ^ 

For seas and hills my combats have beheld. 

The stars bear witness to my feats achieved 

Against the heroes famed of Turan's host ; 

In valor's realm the world is 'neath my feet. 

Yet, pity 's in my heart for rue of thee, 

Life from thy body I would fain not reave ; 

Stay not with the Turks — having such neck and arms — 

Thy compeer in Iran I ne'er have known.' 

When parley such from Rustam's lips had come, 
The heart of Suhrab throbbed, yearning towards him. 

Quoth Suhrab, ' Just one question I will ask — 
'Tis wholly fit thou should'st the truth reveal ; 
Thy lineage tell to me in all detail, 
And gladden thou my heart with thy good word, 
For I believe that thou art Rustam, aye, 
Sprung from the stock of famous Nariman.' 
Then out spake Rustam : ' Rustam I am not. 
Nor sprung from stock, line of Sam Nariman ! 

1 The Persian word nahang or nihang translated as ' crocodile, alligator, ' and 
(cf . Skt. nihdkd ?) designates some is a synonym in the epic for something 
monster of the deep; it is generally that is the extreme of ferocity. 


A hero, he ; I his inferior am, 

Nor throne is mine, nor rank, nor diadem.' 

From Suhrab's hope came not a joyous ray, 
Dark turned for him the brilliant light of day. 


Forth to the field went Suhrab, lance in hand — 
Still pondering on his mother's tale of his birth.i 

A narrow place as field of fight they chose, 
And with their javelins short began the attack ; 
Nor point, nor joint upon the spears remained. 
Curb turned to left, they fought with Indian swords, 
Pouring forth flame from out the edge of steel — 
The blades by force of blows asplinter were — 
(Such blows might bring to pass the Crack of Doom !) 

Then grasped they each their clubs of mighty weight. 
And smote each other, dealing blow for blow. 
Broken their maces from the fierce impact ; 
The horses staggered, the furious f oemen reeled ; 
Off from the steeds the armored trappings fell. 
The corselet on each warrior's breast was rent. 
Chargers and heroes worn and weak alike, 
No strength in cither's hand or arm remained.^ 
Their bodies sweating, mouths filled full with dust. 
Their tongues all parched and cracked with burning thirst - 
Thus parted they — all full of wounds the sire. 
The son with pain and full of anguish-fire 

1 Suhrab's mother, on his departure to him, lest that the child be taken 

for war, had told him the strange story from her. 

that Rustam was his father, though » Possibly bdzu, ht. 'arm, may 

the sire knew not the truth, because here refer to the foreleg of the steed, 

at his birth she had sent the warrior to carry out the parallel ; cf. AvesUn 

hero word that a daughter was born bdzu in Yt. 8. 22 ; Vd. 18. 70. 



When the sun's brilliant orb its wings had spread 
And black-plumed raven night its head had bowed, 
Rustam, of mighty bulk, his tiger-mail 
Did don, and climbed his dragon-charger Rakhsh. 
Between the lines was two leagues' space of ground 
Which none dared tread or enter in the midst. 

Suhrab the night had passed with wine and harp 
Telling his friend Human, in company, 
How sure he felt he had with Rustam fought. 
And his misgivings at the coming fray.^ 

He, too, at dawn when the bright sun arose 

And warrior-knights lifted their' heads from sleep, 

Arrayed himself in armor for the fight. 

His head with combat filled, his heart with mirth. 

Shouting he came into the battle-plain 

Wielding in hand a mace with bullock's head. 

Of Rustam, then, he asked with smiling lips, 

(As had the twain the night together passed), 

' How didst thou rest last night ? How rise to-day ? 

Why is thy heart's design on combat set ? 

Throw down thy mace ; ^ fling off thy vengeful sword ; 

Cast to the earth this unjust wicked strife I 

Let us dismount, and down together sit. 

Making our sad cheeks bright with drafts of wine. 

A covenant in God's sight let us make, 

And heartily repent of seeking war. 

Let some one of the rest resort to fight, 

Be reconciled with me and join in feast. 

1 Vullers, text, 1. 497-500 ; cf. ^ in translating this paragraph sev- 

tr. Mohl, 2. 12&-130 ; Warner, 2. eral lines have been abridged. 
168-171 ; Pizzi, 2. 276-281 ; cf . Eogers, ^ So the reading of Ms. P, with gurz, 

pp. 178-184. ' mace,' instead of tlr, ' arrow.' 


My heart for love of thee doth inly yearn 
And bringeth t^ars of shame into my face. 
Seeing thy birth comes of heroic stock 
'Tis lit that thou make known to me thy line ; 
Thy name thou shouldest not from me conceal 
Now that in fight w^ith me thou art to join. 
Art thou the son of Zal, son of brave Sam, 
The famous Rustam of Zabulistan ? ' 

Rustara replied, ' O seeker after fame, 
In parley such as this we've ne'er indulged ! 
Of wrestling we did speak a word last night — 
I stand no tricks ; make thou no use of them 1 
No child am I, though thou thyself art young. 
My loins I've girt already to meet the fray. 
Come, let's engage 1 and let the issue be 
That which the World-protector may ordain ! 
I'm well acquaint with pride and with its fall ; ^ 
Nor am I man that speaketh guile and fraud.' 

Suhrab replied : ' Old man, if thou dost spurn 

My counsel — though it were my wish that thou 

In time should'st quit thy life upon thy bed, 

While those thou leav'st behind should for thee make 

A tomb, thy soulless body to enshrine — 

Yet, if thy life within my hand is laid, 

At God's mandate I'll take it from that hand.' 

Down from their battle chargers leapt the twain, 
In mail and casque; cautious they made advance; 
Each tied his steed of war fast to a rock 
And then came on, ef ch with a troubled soul. 
They grappled like two lions in desperate clinch, 
With sweat and blood in streams their bodies ran ; 

> Literally fardz u nishlb is ' ascent and descent ' (i.e. exaltation and abase- 
ment in life). 


From dawn until the sun his shadows stretched 
They strove, in turn, each other to o'ercome. 
Suhrab attacked as some mad elephant, 
And sprang like roaring lion from his lair, 
Seized Rustam's girdle-band and tugged amain, 
(Thou would'st have said he meant to rend the earth !) 
Then raised a cry, with wrath and vengeance filled, 
As he the lion Rustam dashed to earth. 

As raging elephant then he Rustam grasped. 

Raised him aloft and hurled him down again. 

Then sat upon his chest of mammoth size. 

His hands and face and mouth covered with dust, 

E'en as the lion smiteth with his paw 

The wild ass, and it straightway meets its death. 

Then forth his dagger keen of blade he drew. 

Eager to cut his foe's head from its trunk. 

Which seeing, Rustam lifted his voice and said, 
(' The hidden secret must at last come out I ') 
Speaking to Suhrab, ' Lion-queller bold, 
Master of lasso, mace, and dagger-thrust. 
Our custom different is from that of yours. 
Our rule ordaineth something else than that. 
The man who joins in wrestling with his foe. 
And brings the chieftain's head down to the earth, 
Planting his shoulders squarely on the ground. 
Though wroth takes not his head at the first fall ; 
But if he bring him down a second time, 
Winning by triumph thus the ' Lion Name,' 
He then may from its trunk the head cut off: 
Such is the custom which prevails with us.' 

By strategy like this he sought escape 

From out the dragon's clutch, and death t'elude. 


The brave youth yielded to the old man's plea 

(Though Rustam's words, in sooth, were not in place) 

In part through contidence, in part through fate, 

In part, no doubt, through greatness of his soul. 

Suhrab freed Rustam from his hand amain, 

Turned to the waste where wild deer scoured the plain. . . . 



Once more their steeds they tethered ere the fray ; 

(Ill-destined Fate was drawing to its end. 

When Fortune once doth show malignity, 

The flinty rock become th soft as wax !) 

Then took their grip to wrestle all anew. 

Each seized the other by the girdle-strap ; 

But as for gallant Suhrab, thou'ldst have said 

High heaven had bound in bonds his strength of hand. 

Rustam in rage reached out to clutch his foe, 

He seized the champion by his head and neck, 

Bent down the body of the valiant youth. 

Whose time had come, nor strength in him remained, 

And like a lion dashed him to the earth. 

Yet knew he well he would not stay beneath. 

So, from his belt quick drew his gleaming blade 

And gashed the bosom of his valiant son. 

*Ah ! ' gasped out Suhrab from his soul and writhed; 

Nor recked he then of either good or ill. 

' Vengeance comes on me from myself,' he cried, 

* 'Twas Fate that gave into thy hand the key ; 

Of this thou'rt blameless, that the vaulted sky 

Hath raised me up to cast me down so soon. 

iVullers, text, 1. 502-504; cf. tr. 172-174; Pizzi, 2. 284-287; Rogers, 
Mohl, 2. 132-135; Warner, 2. pp. 184-188. 


My peers in years will speak of me with scorn, 
Because my neck hath come thus to the dust. 

My mother gave me signs to know my sire ; 
My love for him hath brought my life to an end. 
Ever I searched that I might see his face, 
'Tis thus I gave my life through that desire. 
My search, alas! came to no lucky end. 
My father's countenance I ne'er have seen 1 

Yet, shouldest thou become a fish in the sea, 

Or turn, like night, into the murky air. 

Or e'en become in heaven like a star, 

Or blot the brilliant sun out of the world. 

Vengeance on thee my father '11 surely take. 

When he shall see my pillow is of clay ! 

Some one of those renowned warriors 

Will bring the proof to Rustam and the news : 

" Suhrab's been slain and cast as a vile thing 

Away, while he was making search for thee ! " ' 

As Rustam heard, his brain turned in a whirl, 
Darkling the world became before his eyes, 
His body failed, his strength and vigor ebbed, 
From off his feet he fell and swooned away. 

When once again back to himself he came 
He asked of Suhrab, with deep groan and moan, 
* Tell me what marks of Rustam thou dost have, 
(May his name perish from the warriors' roll I) 
For I am Rustam ! — Perish the name ! and may 
Zal, son of Sam, sit mourning for my death I ' 

He raised a cry, his blood within him seethed. 
His hair he tore and uttered moan on moan. 

When Suhrab Rustam saw in such a state 
His sense took flight a moment from his brain. 


Anon he spoke, ' If thou art Rustam true, 
Wanton and in bad blood thou hast me shiin ; 
In every way I made advance to thee, 
But not an atom of thy love did stir. — 
Undo the fastening of my corselet now 
And look upon my glowing body bare ; 
The onyx on my arm regard — 'twas thme — 
And see how a son hath by his father fared.i 

When the drum raised its voice before the gate, 

My mother came — (cheeks stained with tears of blood. 

Broken her heart because I had to go) — 

And tied this onyx round about my arm. 

"A keepsake," said she, "from thy sire it is, 

Guard and preserve it till it comes of use." 

And now the use is past, the strife is o'er. 

The son hath perished 'neath his father's eyes.' 

When Rustam loosed the mail, the onyx saw. 

He rent the clothes upon his frame, and cried, 

'Ah! thou, my son, art by mine own hand slain, 

Thou hero, praised in every company I ' 

He poured forth tears of blood, tearing his hair. 

Covering his head with dust — face drenched with tears. 

To him said Suhrab, ' That is worse than bad. 
It naught behooves to fill thine eyes with tears ; 
What profit now for thee to slay thyself ? 
The deed is done, and done it was to be.' . . • 


And when a clamor from the camp arose, 
Suhrab to mighty Rustam spake once more. 

iThe reading of Ms. C is followed « Text, Vullers 1 ^05-^)6 ^ cf . tr 
in the translation of these two Unes. Mohl, 2. 136-137 ; Warner, 2. 176-176 , 

Pizzi, 2. 288-289. 


' Now that my day is passed away and gone, 
The Turks' affairs have ta'en a different hue ; 
Do me this act of love ; see that your King 
Lead not in war his host against Turan. 
'Twas but through my support, greedy of war, 
That towards Iran's frontier they turned their face. 
For many days I gave them tidings good. 
In many ways I did their hopes fulfil, 
How could I know — O hero, named to fame — 
That I should perish by my father's hand ! 
Not one of them must suffer on the retreat ; 
Have thou regard for them with naught save love. 

In yonder fort is a captive brave of mine, 

I caught him with the slip-knot of my noose ; 

Him oft I asked some sign for knowing thee — 

Thy image saw I ever in my eye — 

Yet was his answer everything but that. 

('Twas his own fault a high post is unfilled! ) 

Hopeless did I become at what he said, 

And my bright day was turned to murky gloom. 

Yet see thou who of Iran's host he is, 

No harm must come unto his life for this.^ 

The signs my mother gave I saw in thee, 
But, though I saw, I trusted not my eyes ; 
My evil fate was written on my brow 
That I should die by mine own father's hand ; 
Like lightning came I, like the wind I go ; 
Happy in heaven, perchance, I may thee see.' 

Thus died Suhrab by his own father's hand, and Rustam 
mourned for his son and would not be comforted. 

1 A fine touch, this dying appeal to save a captive's life. 


(From the f'ochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts in the Metropolitiiu 

Museum of Art, New York) 

\_To face paije 114] 



' The intelligible fonofl of ancient poeta.' 
— CoLxmvQ*, Translation of Wallenstein, Part I, 2. 4. 123. 

The chapters which have gone before on Early Persian 
Poetry cover a long period — a period of nearly two thou- 
sand years from Zoroaster to Firdausi. The verse of Iran's 
song broke forth first from Zoroaster's prophetic lips, chant- 
ing praises divine in ages long before the Christian era. 
Echoes of music from the palace halls of the great Persian 
kings in ancient times and from the courts of the Sasanian 
rulers, when minstrel verses charmed the assemblage on 
festive occasions, still haunt the ear, but only as faint 
memories of a by-gone past. 

The shouts of Arab invaders drowned these strains, and 
Persia's vanquished heart found no expression in tuneful 
lays until nearly two centuries had passed. In brighter 
national days the strings of the silenced lute and harp were 
touched once more, and Persia, awakened, again raised its 
voice in song. A brief stanza, heard here or there, an ode, 
panegyric, or stray quatrain, told that poetry was reborn. 

The minstrel's voice rang out anew. It was slender, but 
full of Ijrric grace, light-hearted in buoyant fancy, or reflec- 
tive in thoughtful vein, keen in S3anpathy for surroundings, 
rich in a feeling for nature, and, above all, ever thoroughly 



human. These we may count as some of the characteristics 
of the bards that sang down to the time when the epic 
rhapsody of Firdausi's verse gave the assurance that Persian 
poetry was destined to live on. 

Firdausi was not only great in the heroic strain, but was a 
master likewise in the art of composing lyric and romantic 
verse, about which more may be told at some later time. 
It seems fitting, however, to let this volume close with his 
manly voice amid the fanfare of trumpets, the din of battle, 
and the martial deeds that ended in triumph, but in death. 

And deep in my heart I cherish the hope that sometime 
I may touch on that chord of mystic harmony, which long 
ago and always has thrilled the Persian soul, and that I may 
likewise revive for Western ears some of the later lyric 
strains and some of the romantic melodies in song which 
give to Persian poetry a place among the great poetic 
literatures of the world. 



Abbas of Merv, poet (d. 815 or 816), 

Abbasid Caliphs, 44 n. 1 
Abdullah Muhammad al-Junaidi, 

poet, 28-29 
Abu Ali Khabbaz, poet, 27-28 
Abu Ibrahim Ismail, called Mun- 

tasir, poet (d. 1005), 54-56 
Abu Ishak of Merv, called Kisa'i, 

see Kisa'i 
Abu '1-Abbas, poet, 52 n. 3 
Abu '1-Fath, poet, 52 n. 3 
Abu '1-Hasan or Abu Ishak, called 

Kisa'i, see Kisa'i 
Abu '1-Hasan Ali b. llyas al-Aghachi 

(Aghaji), 29-31 
Abu '1-MasaI, poet, 52 n. 3 
Abu 'l-Muzaflfar, Amir, patron of 

Famikhi, 74-78 
Abu '1-Muzaffar Nasr, poet, 28 
Abu Mansur Muhammad bin Ah- 
mad, poet, see Dakiki 
Abu Nasr of Gilan, poet, 51-52 
Abu Said, mystic poet (967-1049), 

Umarah of Merv esteemed by, 

to be discussed in a subsequent 

volume, 58 
Abu Salik of Gurgan, poet (9th 

cent.), 20-21 
Abu Shukur of Balkh, poet (fl. 941), 

Abu Tahir of Khatun, quoted by 

Daulatshah, 11 
Abu Tahir Khusravani, poet, a 

stanza by, 41 n. 3 
general account of, 50-51 
Achaemenian times, poetry in, 6-7 
Afarin, a Sasanian poet, 9 n. 1 
Afarin-namah, lost poem by Abu 

Shukur, 24 n. 2 
Afghanistan, 15, 45, 48, 67 
Agathias, Greek writer, 84 
Aghachi (Aghaji), Abu '1-Hasan Ali 

b. llyas al-, poet (10th cent.), 


Ahmad of Khujistan, king, inspired 

by lines of Hanzalah, 18-19 
Ahura Mazdah, a Gathic hymn 

addressed to, 3—4 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 85 
Anushirvan the Just (Khusrau I), 

Sasanian ruler, 37 
Arab conquest of Persia, 14, 82 
Arabic, poems by Bahram Gur in, 10 
infusion of, into Persian, 14, 15 
Abbas of Merv wrote poetry in, 16 
proportion of, in the Persian of 

Shukur, 23 n. 3 
the poet Junaidi a master of, 28 
Rudagi translated his KaUlah and 

Dimnah from, 37 
words avoided by Firdausi, 83, 87 
Arjasp, ruler of Turan, in Dakiki's 

epic fragment, 64 
Arnold, Matthew, the story of 
Suhrab and Rustam treated by, 
Aruzi, Nizami-i, Samarkandi, on 
Hanzalah of Badghis, 18 n. 1, 
19 n. 1 
quoted on Rudagi, 35, 37 
mentions poets at the court of 

Mahmud of Ghaznah, 69 
remarks on Unsuri by, 70 
account of Famikhi by, 74 n. 1, 78 
Asadi, early Persian lexicographer, 
nephew of Firdausi, quotes 
lines of Abu Shukur, 23 n. 4, 
24 and n. 2 
quotes Shahid of Balkh some 32 

times, 26 n. 4 
quotes 10 single lines by Aghaji, 

30 n. 4 
quotes Rudagi 161 times, 35 n. 3, 

38 n. 3 
quotes over 60 verses of Kisa'i, 

46 n. 1 
quotes some 25 single lines by 

Khusravani, 50 n. 2 
quotes 40 single lines by Umarah 

of Merv, 53 n. 1 
quotes Dakiki some 60 times, 62 
n. 3 




quotes Unsuri more than 100 

times, 72 n. 2 
quotes Farrukhi some 90 times, 

79 n. 1 
quotes Asjadi more than 50 
times, 79 n. 5 
Asjadi, poet (fl. 1025), 79-81 

joined with Unsuri and Fairukhi 
in testing Firdausi, 88 
astrologers, declared useless by 

Khusravani, 50-51 
astronomer, Umarah of Merv an, 52 
Astyages, songs at the court of, 6 
Aufi, biographer (fl. 1225), state- 
ment of, regarding Bahram 
Gur, 10 
praises Hanzalah of Badghis, 17 
lauds the poems of Firuz al- 

Mashriki, 19 
comment of, on Abu Salik of 

Gurgan, 20-21 
a tradition regarding Khabbaz 

quoted from, 27 
statement of, regarding Junaidi, 

28 n. 3 
comment of, on Aghachi, 29 n. 2 
statements of, regarding Rudagi, 

33, 35 
fragments of Kisa'i's poetry pre- 
served by, 46 n. 1 
statement of, regarding Kisa'i, 49 
snatches of Umarah's poems pre- 
served by, 53 
traditions regarding Muntasir re- 
lated by, 54 n. 4, 55 
Avesta, poetry in the, 2-6 

a Gatha passage (Ys. 44. 3-5) 

from the, 3-4 
a Yasht passage (Yt. 10. 13-14) 
from the, 5-6 
Avieenna (Ibn Sina), refused to 
grace the court of Mahmud of 
Ghaznah, 57 
found a patron in the Ziyarid 

prince Kabus, 57 
tomb of, still preserved at Ra- 
madan, 57 
to be discussed in a subsequent 
volume, 58 
Ayaz, favorite of Mahmud of Ghaz- 
nah, 71 
Azud ad-Daulah of Dailam, 11 

Badghis, a district northwest of 

Herat, 17 n. 3 
the poet Hanzalah a native of, 17 
Bahlabad (Barbad), a Sasanian 

poet (fl. 600), 12 

Bahram Gur, Sasanian ruler (420- 
438), invention of the rhyming 
couplet ascribed to, 9 
said to have been the first to com- 
pose Persian verse, 10 
Baihaki, al-, records the names of 

Sasanian poets, 9 n. 1 
Balkh, Abu Shukur a native of, 22 
Shahid a native of, 24 
Unsuri a native of, 69 
Barbad, a Sasanian poet (fl. 600), 

beast-fables, Indian, 37 
Bidpai, Fables of, translated into 

Persian by Rudagi, 37-38 
branding of colts, a poem on, 74-78 
Browne, Edward G., view of, re- 
garding Kisa'i's old age, 50 n. 1 
translation by, of a poem of 
Mantiki of Rai, 57 
Bukhara, city, the home of numer- 
ous poets, 29 
a famous ode by Rudagi on, 

the poet Ma'navi a native of, 

52 n. 3 
the poet Muntasir a prince of, 54 
Avieenna (Ibn Sina) born near, 57 
Dakiki possibly a native of, 59 
Asjadi possibly a native of, 79 
Buwaihid princes, poetry under the, 
15, 56 


Caliphate at Bagdad, decline of the, 

Chares of Mytilene, mentions the 

love-tale of Zariadres and 

Odatis, 7 
chronicles, ancient, of Media and 

Persia, 84 
Cowell, Edward Byles, version of a 

poem of Rudagi by, 39 
CuculUn and Conloch, the Irish 

story of, a parallel to the 

episode of Suhrab and Rustam, 

Cynewulf, Anglo-Saxon poet, 42 


Dakiki, poet (10th cent.), praised 
his contemporary Aghachi, 29 

general account of, 59-65 

stanzas by, translated, 60, 61, 62, 

an epic fragment by, incorporated 
in the Shah-namah, 63-64 

as forerunner of Firdausi, 65, 84 

Firdausi's dream of, 85 



Danish var, author of a Sasanian 

prose epic, the Khvatai-naniak, 


Darmesteter, James, quoted on 

Shahid of Balkh, 25 n. 2 

explanation by, of a phrase in a 

poem by Ruda^, 43 n. 2 
quoted in praise of Kisa'i, 48 
comment of, on a poem of Dakiki, 
Daulatshah, Persian biographer 
(15th cent.), tells the story of 
King Bahram's invention of the 
rhyming couplet, 9, 10 n. 1 
mentions a poetic inscription at 

Kasr-i Shirin, 11 
on poets at the court of Mahmud 

of Ghaznah, 69 
statements of, regarding Unsuri, 
70, 71-72 
dervnsh, Kisa'i in later life became a, 

46, 50 
Dihkan, class of landed proprietors, 

84, 85 
Dilaram, beloved of King Bahram 

Gut, 9 
Divan (collection of poems), by 
Hanzalah, 18 
Shahid of Balkh one of the 
earliest poets to leave a, 26 n. 4 
by Unsuri, still extant, 72 
by Farrukhi, still extant, 79 
by Asjadi, not current even in the 
15th century, 79 
dragon, conflict of the hero Sam 
with a, 102-104 


elegiac poetry, 42^4, 49, 51, 67-68 
epic, an early type of poetry, 2 
Dakiki 's fragment of an, 63-65 
the great Persian, see Shah- 
Esther, Book of, 84 
Ethe, H., estimate of Unsuri by, 72 
evil eye, rue burned to avert the 
influence of the, 18 

Farala\i, poet, 52 n. 3 
Farrukhi, poet (d. 1037 or 1038), 

a native of Sistan, 73 

found a patron in Transoxiana, 

composed a poem on the branding 
of colts, 74-78 

at the court of Mahmud of Ghaz- 
nah, 78 

joined with Asjadi and Unsuri in 

testing Kirdausi, HH 

Firdausi. epic poet (c. 935-1025), 

mentions poets at the court of 

the legendary king Jamshid, 6 

Zarir mentioned in the Shah- 
namah by, 7 

represents Bahram Gur as en- 
jojing poetry, 10 

mentions the Sasanian poet Bar- 
bad, 12 

quotes lines of Khusravani, 51 

incorporated Dakiki's epic frag- 
ment in his Shah-namah, 64 

eulogy of Mahmud of Ghaznah 
by, 66, 87 

the poet Unsuri praised by, 70 

avoidance of Arabic words by, 83 

the successor of Dakiki, 84, 85 

account of the life of, 84-92 

sources drawn on by, for his epio, 

Unsuri, Asjadi, and Farrukhi 
joined in a test of, 88 

the famous satire on Mahmud by, 

lasting fame of, 92 

the great epic by, see Shah- 
Firuz al-Mashriki, poet (c. 890), 

flowers, Kisa'i 's love of, 46-47 


Gathas, poetic aspects of the Aves- 

tan, 2^ 
ghazal (ode), translation from a, by 

Dakiki, 60-61 
ghazals, six, ascribed to Mahmud 

of Ghaznah, 67 
Ghaznah, city in Afghanistan, 45, 

57, 67 
Ghaznavid princes, poetry under 

the, 15, 48, 52, 56, 66-67, 69 
Gilan, the poet Abu Nasr a native 

of, 51 
Giv, hero, mentioned by Firdausi, 

Gulistan, beloved of Mahmud of 

Ghaznah, 67 
Gurgan (HjTcania), Abu Salik a 

native of, 20 
the poet Zarra'ah a native of, 52 

n. 3 
Gushtasp, Kling, hero in a love- 
episode of the Shah-namah, 8 

n. 1 
Dakiki's epic fragment relates to, 





Hafiz, Darmesteter's comment on, 48 
Hamadan, the tomb of Avieenna 

still preserved at, 57 
Hanzalah of Badghis, poet (c. 850), 

Heracleides of Kyme, cited, 8 n. 2 
Herat, Asjadi possibly a native of, 

Herodotus, 84 
Hildebrandslied, a parallel to the 

episode of Suhrab and Rustam, 

humor, Persians have a quaint vein 

of, 41 


Ibn Sina, see Avieenna 

Ilak Khan, Tatar ruler, the poet 

Muntasir fled from, 56 
improvisation, poetic, 71, 73 
Iran, warfare between Turan and, 

Islam, Zoroastrianism replaced by, 

IsmaU, Sahib, Buwaihid minister, 

eulogized by Mantiki, 56 

Jamshid, King, legend of poetry at 

the court of, 6 
selection from the Shah-namah 

about, 96-99 
Junaidi, AbduUah Muhammad al-, 

poet, 28-29 


Kabus, Zij^arid prince, composed 

poems, 57 
Kadisia, battle of, 14 
KaUlah and Dimnah, by Rudagi, 

37-38, 43 n. 2 
Kashaf, river, 91, 102 
kasidah, Kisa'i wrote a mournful, 49 
Kasr-i Shirin, a couplet inscribed on 

the palace at, 11 
Katabun, heroine in a love-episode 

of the Shah-namah, 8 n. 1 
Khabbaz of Nishapur, poet (d. 

953), 27-28 
Khabbaz, Abu Ali, poet, 27-28 
Khanikin, ruins of Kasr-i Shirin 

near, 11 
Kiurasan, scene of literary revival 

in 9th century, 16 
IQiusrau I (Anushirvan), Sasanian 

niler, 37 

Khusrau II (Parviz), Sasanian 
ruler, a couplet ascribed to, 
a patron of poetry, 12 
Khusravani, a Sasanian poet, 9 n. 1 
Khusravani, Abu Tahir, poet, a 
stanza by, 41 n. 3 
general account of, 50-51 
Khvandamir, historian, on Far- 
rukhi and his wealth, 78 n. 2 
explains P^'irdausi's name, 89 n. 2 
Khvatai-namak, Pahla\a 'Book of 

Sovereigns,' 85 
Kisa'i, poet (10th cent.), 46-50 
in later life assumed dervish garb, 

love of, for flowers, 46 
Darmesteter's comment on, 48 
a paneg^Tic on Mahmud of 

Ghaznah by, 48-^9 
wrote despondent verses in old 
age, 49-50 
Kitajnin, heroine in a love-episode 

of the Shah-namah, 8 n. 1 
Ktesias, 84 

Kuran, Rudagi in boyhood knew by 
heart the whole, 33 

Layamon's Brut, compared with the 

Shah-namah, 83 
love-poems, by Firuz al-Mashriki, 20 

by Abu Sallk of Gurgan, 21 

by Abu Shukur, 23 

by Aghachi, 30 

by Rudagi, 34, 40-41 

by Kisa'i, 48 

by Umarah of Merv, 53 

by Dakiki, 61 


Madharastani, a Sasanian poet, 9 n. 1 
Mahmud of Ghaznah (998-1030), a 

panegyric on, by Kisa'i, 48-49 
eulogized by Umarah of Merv, 52 
Avieenna refused to grace the 

court of, 57 
Round Table of poets at the 

court of, 66-81 
himself a poet, 67-69 
Unsuri at the court of, 69-73 
a panegyric by Unsuri on, 71-72 
Farrukhi at the court of, 73, 78 
Asjadi at the court of, 79-81 
Firdausi at the court of, 87-90 
Firdausi's eulogy of, 87, 89-90 
Firdausi's scathing satire on, 87, 

praise of Firdausi by, 89 



^Tahmud-i Varrak, 'copyist' or 

'book-solU'r,' 19 n. 2 
Maniun, Caliph, lauded in verse by 

Abhas of Mcrv, lG-17 
Ma'navi of Bukhara, poot, 52 n. 3 
Mansur I. Samanid ruler, praised 

by Dakiki in verse, iJO 
Man tiki of Hai, poet, 50-57 
Maryliu, ancient name of Merv, 16 
Ma'rufi. poet, 24 n. 3 
Mashad, ruins of ancient Tus near, 

Merv, ruins of the ancient city, 16 
the last Sasanian king died at, 16 
rebirth of Persian poetry at, 16 
the birthplace of Abbas of Merv, 

Kisa'i a native of, 46 
the poet Umarah a native of, 

Asjadi probably a native of, 79 
meter, remarks on Persian, viii 
types of, in the Avestan Gathas, 

4n. 2 
of the Avestan Yashts, 4-5 
the mutakarib, 23, 95 
Mihj Yasht, the, of the Avesta, 5-6 
Minuchihr, Prince, epic hero, 100 
Minuchihri, poet (d. 1041), at the 
court of Mahmud of Ghaznah, 
quoted in praise of Unsuri, 70 
Mithra, a Yasht passage in praise 

of, 5-6 
monorhvme, 29, 33, 36 n. 1, 44 n. 

2, 52 n. 2 
Moses of Khorene, Armenian au- 
thor, 84 
Muhammadan conquest of Persia, 

14, 82 
Muntasir, poet (d. 1005), 54-56 
Mustaufi, author (fl. 1330), state- 
ment of, regarding Dakiki, 60 
mutakarib, type of meter, 23, 95 
Muvayyad, poet, 52 n. 3 

Nahavand, battle of, 14, 82 
Nakdsa (Nakiyya), a Sasanian 

harper, 9 n. 1 
Nasr II, Samanid prince (913-942), 

Rudagi at the court of, 34-37, 

42, 44 
Nasr, Prince, brother of Mahmud of 

Ghaznah, panegyric by Unsuri 

on, 72 
New Year's Day, said to have been 

instituted by King Jamshid, 


Nishapur, the poet Khabbaz a 

native of, 27 
Abu 'l-Muzaflfar Nasr a native of, 

Nizanii-i Aruzi Samarkandi, on 

Hanzalah of Badghis, 18 n. 

1, 19 n. 1 
quoted on Rudagi, 35, 37 
mentions poets at the court of 

Mahmud of Ghaznah, 69 
remarks on Unsuri by, 70 
account of Farrukhi by, 74 n. 1, 

Nuh II, Samanid ruler (97(3-997), 

directed Dakiki to write the 

national legend of Iran, 60 
praised by Dakiki in verse, 60 


ode (ghazal), translation from an, by 

Dakiki, 60-61 
odes, sLx, ascribed to Mahmud of 

Ghaznah, 67 
Omar Khayyam, quoted, 48 
Ormazd, addressed in the Avestan 

Gathas, 3-4 


Pahlavi works, attempts to find 

verse in, 8 n. 4 
panegyric, on the Caliph Mamun 
by Abbas of Merv, 16-17 

on Nasr II by Rudagi, 37 

on Mahmud of Ghaznah by 
Kisa'i, 48-49 

on Mahmud of Ghaznah by 
Umarah of Merv, 52 

on the minister Sahib Ismail by 
Mantiki of Rai, 56-57 

on Mansur I and Nuh II by 
Dakiki, 60 

on Mahmud of Ghaznah by Un- 
suri, 71-72 

on Prince Nasr by Unsuri, 72 

on Mahmud of Ghaznah by 
Firdausi, 87, 89-90 
Parthian rule, no poetry surviving 
from the time of, 8 

treatment of, in the Shah-namah, 
Persia, Northeastern, the scene of 
literary activity in the 9th and 
10th centuries, 15-16, 56 
Persian, a couplet in antique, 11 

little changed in 1000 years, 15 

analogous development of Eng- 
lish and, 15 n. 2 

earliest verses in, 16-17 

Firdausi used remarkably pure, 83 



physicians, declared useless by 

Khusravani, 50-51 
Pickering, C. J., essays on Persian 

poetry by, 32 n. 2, 47 n. 1 
translation of a poem of Kisa'i 

by, 49 
poet laureate, Unsuri designated as, 

psalms, Zoroastrian (Gathas), 2-4 
pun, Junaidi ends a poem with a, 

29 n. 1 
Pushan, hero, mentioned by Fir- 

dausi, 88 


quatrain (ruba'i), the earliest known, 
by Hanzalah, 18 
a very early, by Abu Shukur, 23 
an early, by Shahid of Balkh, 25-26 
by Rudagi, 41 
by Umarah of Merv, 53 
by Dakiki, 63 
by Unsuri, 71 
by Asjadi, 80 


Rai, the poet Mantiki a native of, 56 

Raunaki, poet, 52 n. 3 

rhyme, single (monorhyme), 29, 33, 

36 n. 1, 44 n. 2, 52 n. 2 
romance, the, of Zariadres and 
Odatis, 7-8 
of Gushtasp and Kitayun, 8 n. 1 
ruba'i, see quatrain 
Rudag, birthplace of the poet 

Rudagi, 32 
Rudagi (Rudaki), poet (c. 880- 
954), mourned Shahid of Balkh 
in verse, 24 
traditions of the youth of, 32-33 
at the court of Nasr II, 34-37, 42, 

persuaded Nasr to return to 

Bukhara, 35-37 
poetic productivity of, 38 
lyric vein of, 38-39 
love poems by, 40-^1 
lament of, in old age, 42-44 
rue, burned to avert influence of the 

evil eye, 18 
Rustam, the fatal combat of Suhrab 
and, 105-114 

Saffarid dynasty, poetry under the, 
15, 19 
Firuz al-Mashriki lived in the 

time of the, 19 
Abu Salik lived in the time of the, 

Safinah-i Khvashgu, quoted on 

Shahid of Balkh, 25 n. 1 
Sakisa, a Sasanian harper, 9 
Sam, epic hero, conflict of, with a 

dragon, 102-104 
Saman, ancestor of the Samanid 

dynasty, 19 n. 1 
Samanid dynasty, poetry under the, 

15, 22, 32, 34, 45, 52, 56, 60 
Samarkand, Dakiki possibly a na- 
tive of, 59 
Sargish, poet, 12 n. 2 (cf. 9 n. 1) 
Sasanian rule, poetry under, 8-13 
treatment of, in the Shah-namah, 
Saturn, failings of old age attributed 

to the planetary rule of, 42 
Shabdiz, horse of Khusrau Parviz, 

Shahid of Balkh, poet (d. about 
950), 24-26 
a contemporary of Aghachi, 29 
quoted in praise of Rudagi, 35 
mourned in verse by Rudagi, 42 
Shah-namah, national epic in fin- 
ished form, 2 
mentions poets at the court of the 

legendary king Jamshid, 6 
Zarir mentioned in the, 7 
represents Bahram Gur as enjoy- 
ing poetry, 10 
mentions the Sasanian poet Bar- 
bad, 12 
Dakiki's epic fragment incorpo- 
rated in the, 64 
one of the world's great epics, 82 
compared with Layamon's Brut, 

Arabic words avoided in the, 83 
sources drawn on by Firdausi for 

the, 84-86 
composition of the, 87, 90 
survey of the contents of the, 

translations of selections from 
the, 96-114 
Shams ad-Din ibn Kais, the poet 
Abu Shukur quoted 4 times by, 
24 n. 2 
Shirin, a couplet addressed to, 11 
Shukur, see Abu Shukur 
Sistan, province, Farrukhi a native 

of, 73 
sorcerers, declared useless by Elhus- 

ravani, 50-51 
Sufi, Kisa'i assumed the dervish 

robe of a, 46, 50 
Suhrab, the fatal combat of Rustam 
with, 105-114 



Tabaristan, the Ziyarid princes in, 
Firdausi took refuge in, 90 
Tahirid dynasty, poetry under the, 
Hanzalah of Badghis lived in the 

time of the, 17 
more favorable to Arabic than to 
Persian culture, 17 
Thousand and one Nights, Rudagi's 
Kalilah and Dimnah one of the 
sources of the, 43 n. 2 
translation, by E. B. Cowell, of a 
poem by Ruda^, 39 
by C, J. Pickering, of lines by 

Kisa'i, 49 
by E. G. Browne, of a poem by 
Mantiki of Rai, 57 
Transoxiana, scene of literary ac- 
ti\'ity in the 9th and 10th cen- 
turies, 16, 56 
Famikhi went from Sistan to, 74 
Turan, warfare between Iran and, 

Tus, city in Khurasan, lamented by 
Shahid of Balkh, 25-26 
Dakiki probably a native of, 59 
Firdausi born at, 84 
Firdausi returned to, 91 


Umarah of Merv, poet (10th cent.), 

Unsuri, poet (d. about 1050), 69-73 
other poets disciples of, 79 
joined with Asjadi and Famiklii 
in testing Firdausi, 88 

Valih, quoted on Abu Shukur, 23 
Vamik and 'Adhra, a poem by 

Unsuri, 72 
verse in Pahlavi works, attempts to 

find, 8 n. 4 
versification, in the Avestan Gathas, 

4n. 2 
in the Avestan Yashts, 4-5 
in the mutakarib meter, 23-24, 


V'ishtaspa (Gushlasp), King, hero in 
a iove-episodo of the 5Shah- 
namah, 8 n. 1 
Dakiki 's epic fragment relates to, 


Warner, A. G. and E., translators 

of the Shah-namah, 94 
wine, a poem by Junaidi in praise 

of, 29 
a poem by Rudagi on, 38-39 
Zoroastrians allowed a temperate 

use of, 52 n. 1, 62, 80 
poems by Umarah of Merv on, 

a poem by Dakiki in praise of, 62 


Xenophon, songs at the court of 
Astyages mentioned by, 6 

Yakub, son of Laith, founder of the 
Saffarid dynasty, 19 

Yashts, poetic aspects of the Aves- 
tan, 4—6 

Yatkar-i Zariran, Pahlavi prose 
epic, 7 and n. 2 

Yusuf and Zulaikha, poem by 
Firdausi, 91 

Zairivairi, brother of Vishtaspa, 7 
Zarathushtra, Ahura Mazdah ad- 
dressed by, in the Gathas, 2-4 
Zariadres and Odatis, the love-tale 

of, 7-8 
Zarir, the love-story of, 7-8 
Zarra'ah of Gurgan, poet, 52 n. 3 
Ziyarid princes, patrons of litera- 
ture, 57 
Zoroaster, Ormazd addressed by, in 

the Gathas, 2-4 
Zoroastrianism, supplanted by 
Islam, 14 
a temperate use of wine allowed 

by, 52 n. 1, 62, 80 
Dakiki's leanings toward, 61, 64 
Asjadi fancifully calls himself a 
convert to, 80 

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